Repair the World has been a national Jewish voice for service and volunteerism since its inception in 2009. The organization, which has been in Baltimore since 2013, recently came off a hiatus to relaunch as a partner organization of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.
Heading this effort are two local Jewish millennials, Diana Goldsmith and Josh Sherman. The organization’s goal is to build a culture of service among the young populace in Baltimore — it focuses its efforts on social justice and education and aims to mobilize young Jewish professionals to aid individuals and partnered organizations within the local community.
Across the nation, Repair the World has a few different models that it uses to integrate itself into the community. Originally, Baltimore’s branch was a fellowship program. However, according to Mordy Walfish, Repair the World’s vice president for programs, “we paused to decide how to make more of an impact on the community. We are excited to partner with The Associated because their brand and connections and infrastructure are invaluable, and our goals align in spite of being vastly different organizations.”
Sherman said, “I think that partnering with The Associated has really given us a base that we did not have previously with the fellowship model. Most of the fellows were not from Baltimore originally and were not a part of the Jewish community.”
Goldsmith and Sherman each have a lot of experience with volunteering and tikkun olam. Goldsmith did community service through Jewish Volunteer Connection —The Associated agency Repair the World is now housed under — earlier in her life and was actively involved with Students Helping Honduras at Towson University.
“Service should really be a part of everyday life,” she said. “We want people to be able to access it as easy as possible. We like to say that we bring the volunteering to people, I think you should give back to the community that you live in and be engaged and involved in the social issues facing the area because they effect everybody. We all want to see the community succeed and thrive. The best way to help is to get your hands dirty, to meet the community members that are affected by the social issues that we are fighting and learn it on a personal level as opposed to from a distance.”
Sherman graduated from Kenyon College in 2014 and participated in a service trip to Israel that lasted 10 months. When he came back, he wanted to put his degree in religious studies to work, and Repair the World proved to be the perfect stomping ground.
He shared: “This position allowed me to see Baltimore through a different lens. I have lived here my whole life, but this is a Baltimore that I didn’t know. A personal goal of mine is to get as many people as possible to see Baltimore through that lens, to step out of their comfort zone and meet these people in the communities.”
Goldsmith explained, “The program now is just Josh and me as full-time staff members, so we do everything. We are both really involved in one another’s work, and we are both passionate about all of the issues, so we split the work based on who has better relationships with which partners.”
Repair the World is currently involved in its High Holiday campaign for this year, which is focused around the concept of justice. The organization is holding a Shabbat dinner at the end of the month and will discuss the intersection of racial justice and food justice. In addition to planning service events, there will be a food-justice event with Charm City Tribe at Max’s Taphouse in October. It is also creating a mobile sukkah to connect the food-justice theme to the holidays and will be driving around to bring the sukkah to local communities in an effort to share and educate.