Get Involved! Learning About Contemporary Campaigns of Jews and Allies Working for Social Change
Students will design a brochure, reproduce the brochure so that everyone in the class will have one of each brochure produced, and present their organization in a Volunteer Day Exposition.
A sample list of organizations that do immediate aid, human rights, leadership training, labor and consumer advocacy work, and education is given below. Teachers are encouraged to determine whether or not to include organizations that are not specifically Jewish and to add organizations with which the schools or synagogues they are working in are involved. Teachers might also include student-generated ideas for organizations the students may have done service work for or support already or with which the students already know they would like to get involved.
Directions to students:
- Choose an organization that works to help people in economic, political, or social need and research it on the internet. A sample list of organizations is given below, and your teacher may add local organizations, as well as organizations that you or some of your classmates already know something about to the list. It may be that your school or synagogue already has literature on some of these kinds of organizations, and you can use that literature as well.
- After finding the organization on the internet, go to the “about us” button and read the mission statement and about the work the organization says it does. Be sure also to look at the places on the website that describe actual, ongoing projects in which the organization is involved.
- Answer the following questions for your organization:
- How does this organization work to help people? Does the organization advocate for people, for example, by lobbying for legislation or do direct action with people in need? In other words, what is its approach to making change in the world? Do they raise and dispense money, or do they do direct work in the field, as well? Do they educate and raise awareness on the topic?
- Does the organization work locally, nationally, or internationally? Does that depend on what they’re doing for people?
- Who does the organization serve? What are their “spheres of support” – which communities do they work with, and who don’t they serve?
- Do paid staffers or volunteers do the work? Is it a combination?
- In what ways is the organization eliciting Jews as allies for social change?
- Get a copy of the organization’s logo; notice the colors it uses in its literature, logo and on its website; get information that potential volunteers would need if they wanted to get involved.
- Design your own brochure for the organization. Make it appealing, something that would catch a person’s eye if they saw it sitting on a table with lots of other similar kinds of literature. But also make sure it uses the organization’s actual logo and colors. It could be a simple 4-sided brochure with a fold down the middle; it could have two folds, for a total of six columns front and back, etc.
- Choose information to put in the brochure so that you are using every space well to convey your organization’s great work. When someone picks up the brochure, they should have a clear sense of:
- The name of the organization
- What the organization does
- How the organization does what it does, eg. legislative advocacy, direct action, education, etc. What is its approach to change?
- Where it operates, eg. locally, nationally, internationally, etc.
- Who it works with – the core constituency group with which it is allying?
- How to get in touch to help the organization do its work
- How it’s unique
- Why a Jewish person would want to be involved with this organization, if it’s not specifically a Jewish organization
- Make the brochure and then prepare a presentation that includes the information above. You may want to find a short success story to tell—the organization website very likely has such stories—that conveys all the information above in a more moving way than just reading what’s on your brochure.
Teachers can use the following questions to have students discuss the brochures when they are ready to present:
- What are some similarities between the different organizations?
- Which organizations are primarily fund raisers and money dispersal organizations? Which do direct action? Which are advocacy organizations? Which are education organizations? What are the different approaches to making social change that are represented by these brochures?
- Which organizations provide opportunities or volunteers to work directly with people in need? What organizations do you need professional credentials to work for? What are the different ways you can get involved to support these organizations?
- Which organizations are connected to specific Jewish historical experiences or specific Jewish values? What are these experiences/values?
- How would volunteers become partners for change with oppressed people?
Partial List of National Organizations for Students to Research
- American Jewish World Service, AJWS.org
- Rabbis for Human Rights – North America, RHR-NA.org
- Uri L’Tzedek, Utzedek.org
- Bnai Brith, bnaibrith.org
- Henry Street Settlement, Henrystreet.org
- National Council of Jewish Women, NCJW.org
- Fair Trade USA, fairtradeusa.org
- Avodah, Avodah.net
- Religious Action Center of the Union for Reform Judaism, RAC.org
- Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, Jfrej.org
- Interfaith Worker Justice, iwj.org
- Jewish Organizing Institute and Network (JOIN), Jewishorganizing.org
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Get Involved! Learning About Contemporary Campaigns of Jews and Allies Working for Social Change." (Viewed on May 28, 2023) <https://jwa.org/node/14860>.