Initiative encourages Jewish millennials to give back to own community

Recent data revealed that 72% of Jewish millennials worldwide are committed to volunteer work and actively seek out service experiences.

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February 27, 2019 22:10
Initiative encourages Jewish millennials to give back to own community

Mosaic United CEO Rabbi Benji Levy announces the launch of ‘Shalom Corps’ at the closing plenary of the Jewish Agency for Israel’s annual Board of Governors meeting in Jerusalem on February 26, 2019.. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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A new initiative has been launched to encourage Jewish millennials worldwide to give back through Jewish organizations.

While recent data has revealed that 72% of Jewish millennials around the world are committed to volunteer work and actively seek out service experiences, only 18% choose to give back through Jewish organizations because most don’t see their Jewish identities as particularly relevant to their lives. 

The initiative, dubbed “Shalom Corps,” aims to dramatically increase the number of young Jews from around the world engaging in meaningful, ethical and sustainable service experiences that also provide opportunities for the exploration of Jewish identity.

Shalom Corps was announced during the closing plenary of the Jewish Agency for Israel’s annual Board of Governors meeting in Jerusalem on Tuesday evening.

Isaac Herzog, Jewish Agency chairman, and Rabbi Benji Levy, Mosaic United CEO, together announced the launch of the initiative, which they said “aims to dramatically increase the number of young Jews from around the world engaging in meaningful, ethical and sustainable service experiences that also provide opportunities for the exploration of Jewish identity.”

Mosaic United is a partnership between the State of Israel and the global Jewish community that addresses the numerous wide-ranging approaches for Jewish engagement

Levy explained that as Jews “our humanity is inextricably linked to our identity and our deeds.

“It is through giving to others in times of need that we can truly explore who we are as individuals and as Jews,” he said. “Through the development of Shalom Corps, we will create a movement that heals the fractured world around us while simultaneously investing in our greatest asset: our Jewish youth.” 

“Shalom Corps will make meaningful service learning opportunities accessible to more young Jews than ever before, empower the incredible organizations working in this space to do even more, and change the way we all think about Jewish values and the endless good that our young people can unleash in this world.” 

Moreover, another challenge being faced within even the most impactful Jewish service programs have funding and capacity issues, while some programs also limit acceptance, and others struggling to cover the cost of recruitment efforts.

But both organizations hope that this will change with Shalom Corps, which they believe could shift these numbers, grow the field and rebrand social action as a core Jewish value and expression.

“We are bringing a new message to young Jews in Israel and the Diaspora,” emphasized Herzog. “The Jewish Agency, together with Mosaic United, will enable expression of the wonderful Jewish value of Tikkun Olam in communities in need throughout the world.”
He said that while serving as ambassadors of the Jewish people in these communities, “the thousands of young Jews set to participate in this program will also be strengthening their own Jewish identity and connection to Israel.”

Shalom Corps is set to launch in cooperation with OLAM – a platform promoting global Jewish service and international development – whose experience and expertise has, and will continue, to deeply influence the design of this initiative.
The initiative will also partner with IsraAid, an Israel-based humanitarian aid agency that responds to emergency crises and engages in international development around the world. 

A statement from the organizations said that “Shalom Corps will provide a broad range of Jewish volunteer organizations with recruitment and marketing resources, educational resources and Senior Jewish Educators, professional training, research and best practices, funding to help grow their numbers and increase affordability of their service experiences, alumni engagement resources and more.”

Shalom Corps will begin accepting grant applications from volunteer service providers this summer and aims to kick-start its field building, strategy and planning, and marketing later this year. 

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