By Karen Thirman
Or Tzedek Parent
My daughter Hannah was fortunate to be able to participate in Or Tzedek for two summers. Not only did she have a great time and make new friends, her experience had a transformative impact on her understanding of social justice issues and her role and responsibility as a Jew in trying to help make the world a better place.
Growing up in the suburbs, our kids tend to interact with others of similar socioeconomic backgrounds. Opportunities to meet and interact with a more diverse group of people is limited. As a result, the issues that face others are often abstract. The Or Tzedek experience presents them with the chance to meet people in other communities and to better understand the issues that they face. They then learn social advocacy skills through hands-on activities and these issues become real and concrete.
Many of Hannah’s friends have participated in international volunteer summer programs. While those programs are great, the opportunities to explore social responsibility and volunteer in the City of Chicago are tremendous and right in our own backyard. The Or Tzedek program provides a wonderful framework to take advantage of this opportunity.
Hannah’s experience sparked her interest in issues of social justice and volunteering. She has continued to be involved is social action groups in college. I really feel that her participation in the Or Tzedek program provided her with the interest and the skills in her continued involvement in social justice.