Spotlight on education | Fundamental lessons in service learning

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Hausner creates meaningful opportunities for students to participate in the mitzvah of tikkun olam. To achieve active involvement in making the world a better place, students participate in activities such as making blankets for sick children, decorating cards for the elderly, or distributing food to the needy. All activities are coordinated with local Jewish and secular nonprofit organizations. Our desire to imbue children with a sense of community responsibility led to the creation of schoolwide Community Service Days and the Avodah La’Olam program in middle school.

Our sixth-graders explore their commitment to tikkun olam through ancient and modern Jewish sources. Their journey to discover who they are as individuals and what they stand for, as well as building a community committed to the value of tikkun olam, helps prepare them for young adulthood. They deepen their knowledge of social challenges in their own community and worldwide.

In seventh grade (b’nai mitzvah year), students build strong foundations in their lifelong commitment to avodah la’olam. Through a guided process, they explore ethical questions, discover values important to them, and choose a nonprofit organization they feel passionate about. After an in-depth research essay, plus oral and visual presentations, they work together to allocate their self-raised philanthropy fund. Students acquire lifelong skills including interview techniques, transcript writing, use of primary source documentation in research, and the art of persuasion. This yearlong project culminates in our nationally acclaimed Celebration of Tzedakah, where they share their experiences and present funds to organization representatives.

Finally, eighth-graders gain a powerful understanding of the issues affecting our world. Major projects include weekly tutoring at local public schools and continued advocacy work. Partnering with My New Red Shoes, a local nonprofit, they examine homelessness.

Investments of personal time and long-term involvement are the cornerstones of avodah la’olam.