Serve the Moment connects Jewish young adults with social and racial justice volunteer projects.
Courtesy of Jewish Service Alliance

The program was created in response to the call for relief from the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the racial injustice that has long impacted Black Americans across the country.

This summer a coalition of Jewish agencies and foundations will connect Jewish young adults with service and social and racial justice volunteer projects through a campaign called Serve the Moment. The program was created in response to the call for relief from the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the racial injustice that has long impacted Black Americans across the country.

Local efforts in Detroit will be facilitated by Repair the World Detroit, which is also moving to its new space at the Durfee Innovation Society (housed in the former Durfee Elementary School building) in July.

Running in Detroit from July 8-Aug. 7, Serve the Moment was created by the newly formed Jewish Service Alliance. The initiative mobilizes tens of thousands in virtual volunteering, in-person service and national service campaigns around specific issues during the year.

Jordan Fruchtman, senior director of the Jewish Service Alliance, said the pandemic caused Repair the World to suddenly pivot its efforts. As part of the Jewish Service Alliance, the organization received significant funding to fulfill the newly formed mission of responding to needs caused by COVID-19 and social injustices.

“Repair the World has created a response that is specifically tied to the effects of coronavirus,” said Fruchtman, who is based in California and seven years ago helped establish Detroit’s Moishe House. “Everything we are doing in this program will have an underlying thread of addressing racial injustice. Our Corps members will serve in four areas: food insecurity, education, employment and mental health resources.”

Serve is also in partnership with local Jewish organizations that include the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit as well as the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, the Jim Joseph Foundation and Maimonides Fund through the Jewish Community Response and Impact Fund.

Sarah Allyn, executive director of Repair the World Detroit, said she is simultaneously in the process of filling 10 Corps positions, hiring a coordinator to oversee them and coordinating with nonprofit organizations in Detroit to evaluate and assess where the need is the greatest.

Allyn said the timing of Serve’s launch had a lot to do with how national and local agencies needed to take the time to process how the pandemic affected their organizations, the communities they serve and the disruptions it caused in the summer plans of Jewish young adults.

“In those first few weeks of the pandemic, we were all on survival mode,” Allyn said. “We needed time to evaluate and assess the availability of young adults whose original summer plans (of working as summer interns, Jewish camp counselors or traveling to Israel) were disrupted. Now, we are actually riding this bicycle as we build it.”

Allyn said Corps members will volunteer in a mixture of in-person and online capacities.
Detroit will hire 10 Corps members who will serve 32 hours a week, including taking Friday to participate in Jewish and social justice learning. Corps members will receive a $500 stipend for the program.

Molly Lippitt, 22, of Bloomfield Hills has been selected as one of the first Corps volunteers to serve in Detroit. She recently earned her master’s degree in education in Spain and was planning on teaching there before the pandemic hit. As the daughter of Repair the World board member Robb Lippitt, she said she is excited to be following in the footsteps of the work her father began as well as carrying out Jewish values of tikkun olam she learned as a teen through BBYO and at Temple Shir Shalom.

“I am very excited to volunteer through an organization that my family has been long involved with,” Lippitt said. “The Jewish values I have learned urge us to help out the wider community any way we can. As Jews, we know historically what it has been like to face oppression. I am looking forward to working as a Corps member with Repair the World this summer to work toward rectifying the systematic racism that has long existed in our country.”

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