Social action in Judaism can take many faces. For some, social action is working to clean up our world and avoiding unnecessary destruction to our environment. For some, it’s seeking justice for those being persecuted because of their religious beliefs. For others, social action is all about taking steps to inspire positive change within their local communities.
Motivating our young community members to invest their time, energy, and passion into sports, academics, or the performing arts is relatively easy compared to motivating the same teens to give a part of themselves to social action. Our best chance of success is finding a way to connect the pursuit of social action and tikkun olam to the peer group activities to which our youth are drawn.
Orange County’s Bureau of Jewish Education is taking steps this year to bring more social action into the core learning experience of its TALIT Nation program for high school teens. These steps are a part of the ongoing evolution of the Bureau’s programs, a continuing effort to assure that the activities are enticing and fun for participants while creating experiences that deepen their understanding of why they love being Jewish!
Social Action Sundays will create experiences that allow 9th through 12th graders to practice putting their Jewish values into action. They’ll have a great time working arm-in-arm with the teen community they love, while exploring Jewish motivations for being an instrument of change in the world.
This year’s menu is expected to include:
¾ TALIT Nation opening day at the Peter & Mary Muth Interpretive Center in the Upper Newport Bay. Dr. Gabe Goldman and five Jewish naturalists will facilitate a focus on environmental social action programs and learning how our tradition informs our environmental actions.
¾ An “Activist Boot Camp.” Participants will engage in workshops that help them become effective social activists and spend time with local politicians learning how to have an impact on local government and the O.C. Jewish community.
¾ An afternoon at the Community Action Partnership (CAP), the largest food distribution center to Orange County shelters. Students will learn about the needs and realities of Orange County’s homeless, and will volunteer in boxing and distributing food.
¾ A morning at the Walk to End Genocide, sponsored by Jewish World Watch. TALIT Nation will be part of many hundreds marching through the streets of Orange County, increasing awareness of the modern genocides and other man-made human rights disasters in the world.
¾ Community leadership at the Israel Expo, the largest annual Jewish community event in O.C. Booths and activities at the Expo are designed to teach young and old the value of Israel to our community and to the world.
Participants in TALIT Nation’s Social Action Sundays will earn up to 18 community service hours, a small reward to go along with the psychic income that comes from a greater connection between Judaism, fun, and the ability to have a positive impact on their world.