JChoice in The Jewish Advocate!

By Erica Richmond

Posted on 22nd March 2013

The Jewish Advocate

Vol. 204. No. 9. 19 Adar 5773.

Friday March 1st 2013

Tikkun Olam and Today's Technology

By Erica Richmond

After a bar/bat mitzvah, giving back to the community doesn’t automatically become a priority, as most tweens stop receiving formal Jewish education where this idea is reinforced. Why does this extensive process of giving back stop here? As these tweens grow and mature, isn’t it important to continue the mitzvot of tikkun olam, or giving back?


In the 2010-11 school year I participated in the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Boston Diller Teen Fellowship program. The Diller Teen Fellows is an internationally run program that focuses on four pillars: leadership, tikkun olam, Jewish identity, and Israel. During my "Diller year" I was able to participate in a number of incredible service projects, including teaching in the Gabrieli elementary school in Haifa. Alongside four other Diller fellows I was able to overcome the language barrier and teach English to Israeli children. 


Through this experience, I learned the importance of communication, and how verbal communication is not the only way to interact with others to rely a message. More specifically, when I began thinking about my own community action project this experience resonated with me. I wondered how all the Diller teenagers from 16 different cities were going to stay in touch, not just socially but intellectually as well. I decided to form a Diller Teen Fellows social network; a lofty goal for a then-15 year old.


Diller then helped turn me to (, a Jewish charity website where people can donate to over 200 non-profits from a unique and relevant Jewish perspective. Each year through their extensive database of charitable organizations, JChoice allocates tens of thousands of dollars to causes that people truly care about. However, JChoice doesn’t just stop at facilitating donation transactions, they also inspire people to utilize the many forms of multi-media to build and promote their own mitzvah projects rooted in Jewish values. JChoice inspires people to not stop giving back to their community after completing a bar/bat mitzvah project, but rather to continue to help repair the world.


I immediately signed up for and after contacting their headquarters in Needham, they encouraged me to build a Diller Teen Fellows donor group on JChoice. They expressed to me that the donor page would allow all the Diller fellows around the globe to communicate in one place. In addition, instead of just making an individual donation to a cause, a donor group allows for a discussion, and interaction with others. I was able to create and developed the Boston Diller Teen Fellows Alumni Donor page, and motivate my "Diller friends" to sign up for JChoice. Throughout this whole process, I learned so much. I witnessed JChoice evolve as a site and my mentors at JChoice taught me that some things take a lot longer than expected, and sometimes breaking goals into smaller steps makes it easier to reach your bigger goals. They also taught me that with dedication, everyone can influence the world around them.


More than anything I am blessed to participate in a Jewish community around me that is motivated by repairing the world through social action. Now, our Diller group is also part of a larger JChoice community, where we interact through their online platform to advocate and fundraise for our favorite causes from a Jewish lens. Tikkun olam is part of our lives long after we finish our bar/bat mitzvah project and is a modern way to continue that mitzvah.


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