As of Wednesday evening, the last Mitzvah Corps 2017 participant had arrived safely home. Thank you notes have been written, final invoices paid, dorm rooms emptied, and emergency phones turned off. We’ve closed out an incredible, successful season, and our gratitude to our community partners, staff, administrative team, and families cannot be understated.
But we do not rest easy tonight.
Our work is far from over. With the books closed on summer, we return to our core mission, to connect Jewish teenagers with opportunities to understand the complexities of the world, and how Judaism empowers them to play an active role in the pursuit of justice. And in the world today, in the face of a disturbing rise in anti-semitism, and of organized white supremacy taking up physical space in our communities; amidst an increased societal awareness of the acute and systemic ways it has targeted People of Color and minorities all along, and the harsh reality that the challenges we tackled this summer haven’t ended just because we’ve returned home, our work, and the collective voice of those of us who can stand up and say that we will not stand idly by, is more important than ever.
To that end, this year Mitzvah Corps will be strengthening our role as a year-round community leader (and articulating the ways that being a “leader” is nuanced, and shifts depending on the situation) in social justice education, learning, resource building, and allyship. We will continue to fight anti-semitism, white supremacy and racism both within the Jewish community and the world at large. We will listen, we will use the power of our own words with intention; we will follow the lead, and lift up the voices, of those who are marginalized. We will create and share resources with teens, parents, and the public that represent our Reform Jewish values, and empower us all to do our part.
We’re proud to have partners in NFTY, the URJ, the RAC, Keshet, and so many more to unpack the chaos and complexity of the world. Our Judaism obligates us to grapple with the nuance, and to use our struggle and journey as a light for others to learn alongside us.
This summer may be a wrap, but our commitment to creating a more just world never ceases.