Thursday, October 21, 2010

Repair the World: My Story, Julie Kalt, A12

If nothing else, Tikun Olam teaches us how to try – how to try to make the world a better place and how to connect ourselves with the larger society we are serving. My name is Julie Kalt. I am a Junior here at Tufts and I never knew what it meant to be part of a Jewish community outside of my nuclear family before coming to Tufts. I walked earnestly into Hillel my freshman year hoping to find something, and low and behold, I didn’t just find something, but everything. When I say everything, I mean a place where I found some of my best friends, a place to grow intellectually and spiritually, a place where I could focus my efforts and never get tired of the countless projects, and a place where I’ve fostered a sense of self I didn’t have before. I was bat mitzvahed my freshman year, served on the Executive Board as Cultural Vice President my sophomore year, and am now one of the student coordinators for this new and exciting Repair the World Partnership.

Growing up, social justice wasn’t necessarily emphasized in my immediate surroundings. However, when I was three years old, my father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. This more than anything, alerted me to the realities of life. But instead of solely focusing inward on the sadness I felt or on the problems that manifested within my family, I chose to focus my energy outside – on school, on public service, on choosing to use the emotional baggage from the hardship I faced in a constructive way. I am so excited about Repair the World because social justice is something that all Jews can relate to and feel comfortable relating to. To be able to infuse Hillel’s existing (already amazing) programming with social justice oriented action, advocacy, and education excites students and speaks to Tufts Hillel as a truly Tzedek institution. They say that you must repair yourself before you can start repairing the world, but I propose that there is a reciprocal relationship between these two ideas. In my case, focusing outward has allowed me a certain level of healing inside. We should not limit the significance of Tikkun Olam simply to “Repair the World,” but let our own experiences and personal context speak to, enhance, and enrich its meaning.

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