Thinking Creatively and Thinking Justly—JTS Students Establish Social Justice Initiative

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Contact: Nina Jacobson
Office: (212) 678-8950
Email: nijacobson@jtsa.edu


April 27, 2010, New York, NY

Students in the Albert A. List College of Jewish Studies of The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) are inspiring their community to give back.

The List College Social Entrepreneurship Fellows have initiated the Creatively Helping Engage Community (CHEC) grant program. The CHEC grant aims to empower JTS community members to take initiative in changing their world. To achieve this objective, students in the Fellowship in Jewish Social Entrepreneurship Program (FJSE) have awarded micro grants of up to $1,000 to individuals and groups that seek to engage the JTS community in pursuing social justice. Applications were open to JTS students, faculty, and staff members.

Applicants were asked to offer creative responses to social justice issues that will educate, mobilize, or otherwise positively impact JTS and surrounding communities. Thirteen grant applications were received from members of the five JTS schools.

The grant recipients and projects include the following:

  • The JTS Eco Reps will create a rooftop garden at JTS and winterize the residence halls.
  • Sarah Sechan, a List College student, will run an afterschool program called “Making Music Matter” at local PS 125.
  • Sam Shuman, a List College student, will run a forum on mental health at JTS.
  • Deborah Stack, a List College student, will initiate a knitting club and create blankets and hats to be distributed in local hospitals and shelters.
  • Ilana Cohen and Ya’arah Pinhas, List College students, will run a program for their organization, New Yachad City. This organization seeks to illuminate the diversity that exists within the Jewish community in New York City by arranging trips and speakers to local synagogues and Jewish cultural centers. Funds will be used for a workshop on Jewish awareness through music.
  • Rabbinical School student Mick Fine will run a program called “PB & JAM,” in conjunction with West End Synagogue. This daylong event will take place on the Upper West Side and promote awareness about hunger in New York City.
  • The List College Student Council will sponsor a trivia night open to all JTS students to support Heifer International.

Jessica Fisher, one the FJSE Fellows, shares her excitement about this project: “The CHEC project is an incredible opportunity for the JTS community. We are bringing a conversation about social justice into JTS in a new way. Additionally, we see this as an opportunity to bring the different schools and departments of JTS together in working toward a common goal. We are excited to see the community work together to make projects that will transform both JTS and its surrounding communities.”

FJSE, launched in January 2009, provides training and support to List College students who wish to enhance their skills as Jewish social entrepreneurs who are equipped to tackle major social issues and offer new ideas for wide-scale change. The fellowship is open to students in their junior or senior years who have had previous volunteer or paid experience in the social sector.

FJSE offers exciting opportunities for off-campus engagement with leaders in the world of social entrepreneurship, networking with professionals working in a field of interest, and skill building in areas such as budgeting, long-range planning, fund-raising, and conflict resolution. What makes the FJSE unique is the opportunity to synthesize Jewish learning and values with the commitment to civic engagement, social service, and justice.

For more information about the CHEC grant program, please visit http://checgrant.weebly.com/ or e-mail rehammerman@jtsa.edu.


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