Ask those currently involved in social justice and community service work why it is that they do what they do and how they got involved in the first place and their response will more often than not have something to do with their parents and how they were raised. Tikkun Olam and tzedakah were words that many of my friends heard repeatedly from their parents or in their synagogues from an early age. I, however, was not one of them.
My family and I immigrated to the United States when I was six years old and at the time, I did not know that my family was Jewish. Growing up as an immigrant, I had different priorities than many of my fellow friends whose families were well established in this country. My time, effort, and intellectual abilities were spent on assimilating and learning how to succeed in this country. I was the one in need of help, not the one doing the helping.
As time went on and my family found its place in this country, I was able to gain a deeper understanding for the forces that allowed me to end up where I am today. I learned how much the Jewish community helped us when we first came to the U.S. and how many resources they invested in our family. As I learned more and more about Judaism and what it meant to be Jewish, I found the value of tikkun olam to be the most powerful and prevalent in my life. As my involvement in the Jewish community grew throughout the years, so did my dedication to ensuring that I would eventually ‘ pay it forward.’ If the community had faith in me and helped me when I needed it most, then it was my duty to return the favor.
Upon coming to Tufts, I naturally became very involved with the Hillel on campus and took advantage of the many available opportunities to continue on a path of social justice. I started planning programs that raised awareness about important issues, educated others on campus, traveled oversees on several service trips, and took the time to participate in Jewish learning.
In my current role as a Student Coordinator overseeing the newly formed partnership with Repair The World, I am not only able to continue doing all of the things I have done in the past, but I have the ability to empower others to do the same. I am able to use my passion for social justice to ensure that students find their reason for being active in their community, to match their interests with the community’ s needs, and to strengthen Hillel’s commitment to tikkun olam.