Our Stories

The Shuk for Shalom, our Student-Led Tikkun Olam Project to Raise Money for Israel

November 20, 2014 by Ronit Greenstein (Faculty and Staff)

This fall, as part of their Tikkun Olam project, JPDS-NC’s sixth graders led a school-wide campaign to engage students, show our school’s support for Israel and raise money. On November 12, the sixth graders hosted a fundraiser and transformed the Gottesman Auditorium into the Shuk for Shalom, resembling Israel’s large outdoor markets. After weeks of planning and hard work, the students raised $3,125 for the Jewish Federation Israel Emergency Campaign.

At the shuk, strains of popular Hebrew songs floated through the air as students in pre-K through fifth grade haggled with sixth grade vendors over toys and games – in Hebrew! All of the items for sale, including toys, books, games, CDs, and other kid-oriented items, were donated by JPDS-NC families as part of a donation drive organized by the sixth grade students. “What makes the shuk project so special is that it is geared to kids and run by kids, from making donations, to designing the T-shirts, to participating in the shuk,” said sixth grader Jonah Blumenthal.

Students visiting the shuk could also show their support for Israel by writing letters and drawing pictures that will be sent to Israeli soldiers, creating their own “I Support Israel” campaign pins, and munching on tasty Israeli snacks. Many of the students, teachers, and parents visiting the shuk also sported special T-shirts, featuring artwork by the winners of the “JPDS-NC Supports Israel” T-shirt design competition, Feven Aklilu (class of 2016) and Miriam Shron (class of 2015). “We are interacting with everyone in our community, engaging them and letting them be part of this effort to support Israel,” noted Public Relations Committee member Shuli Frenkel.

Lihi Shavit-Sagui, Cultural Attaché at the Embassy of Israel and a JPDS-NC parent, attended the Shuk for Shalom. We were honored to have her join us, and inspired by her address to the sixth graders as she commended them for their teamwork, effort and dedication.

“We are finding our inner Jewish selves when we help our community … because Israel is our community,” stated sixth grader Isabel Aliaga, when asked about the impact of this experience. In addition to wanting to send a powerful message about JPDS-NC’s connection to Israel, students wanted to create multiple ways to raise funds, including sales of donated goods, selling Israeli-made snack foods (“we can help Israel twice”), and selling T-shirts. Adam Alter of the Finance Committee shared that the sixth graders were “euphoric” at the success of the shuk!

On November 14, students presented their contribution to Shelly Kupfer and Mandy Kaiser-Blueth, representatives from the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. Next week, the students will gather remaining donations and donate them to A Wider Circle. “What you did was a real mitzvah. It speaks to the power of our JPDS-NC community, the Washington DC Jewish community, and the global Jewish community,” said Shelly Kupfer of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.

In order to plan, organize and run their Tikkun Olam project, the sixth graders formed six committees. The Donations Committee organized the donations drive and got the whole school to donate items for the shuk; the T-Shirt Committee planned and executed the T-shirt design competition and distributed all of the T-shirts; the Finance Committee helped to price all of the items at the shuk, as well as the T-shirts; the Planning the Day Committee managed the logistics of turning the gym into an Israeli shuk; the Show the Support Committee got every class to make posters to decorate the gym, and organized the letter-writing, pin-making, and Israeli flag stations at the event; and the Public Relations Committee put up posters, made presentations to the school and wrote press materials to promote the shuk.

Transforming the World (Tikkun Olam) is one of the core values that inform and inspire daily life at JPDS-NC. The Tikkun Olam project is designed and run by students to help prepare them for responsible citizenship in the broader community, and encourage them to sustain and improve the world around them.

Mazal Tov to the sixth graders!