Alternative Winter Break is a week-long service learning program emphasizing Tikkun Olam (repairing the world), social responsibility and volunteerism. While working to make a difference, participants gain Jewish context for the good work they perform, a deeper understanding of the community in which they work, important leadership skills and wonderful new friends who share the same values!
The 2015 trip ran from December 22nd- 29th in both Los Angeles and New Orleans and included rebuilding homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, visiting homeless shelters and helping to serve food, planting gardens, and more. See the daily updates and pictures from the trip!
This year, the New Orleans trip was planned and coordinated by CJ alumna, Shira Berman. We also had three CJ alumni staff the trips: Sarah Fine and Aaron Karas worked the Los Angeles trip while Matthew Kaplan worked the New Orleans trip for the second time.
In addition to the staff members who name CJ as their second home, we had many former campers who attended. We are so proud of the work they did and the Tikkun Olam they performed while on the program.
“I think serving meals was really powerful because most students at that age are experiencing for the first time what it’s like to serve other people instead of being served. I think many found it very humbling and that the manual labor was challenging and rewarding. I also think a lot of the most powerful moments came from the kids interacting with homeless people and coming to the realization on their own that homeless people are not a faceless or nameless concept but rather real people with families, emotions, lives, and stories.”
Sarah Fine, Vanderbilt University
“…On AWB I volunteered at a place called Midnight Mission. Here they give food three times a day to any person who comes in. They have been around for 101 years and have never missed a meal or denied one to any person. The kitchen opens for one hour, and during that hour, 500 to 1000 people in need are served meals. This is what a true rush hour is. My job was to throw away the leftover food and save the food we could. For one hour, I was moving back and forth: throwing dishes, dumping water, and saving fruits. Driving home from work will never be the same for me. I rush to get to my friends, while thousands of people rush to get some food in their stomach.”
Salomon Levy, 12th grade
“The most powerful moments were when we made others happy. During the Christmas party, my goal was to make these kids have the best Christmas ever. When they smiled because of the fun they were having, it made my day. Also, while feeding the homeless, I could tell how thankful they were just by the way they looked at you. I learned that the little things can make the largest impact on a person’s life. For example, putting in drywall on the ceiling will make a home safe for someone, or giving a gift to a little kid could make their wish come true, and how much changing one lightbulb could impact the environment.”
Matan Berman, 10th grade
If you are:
• Going to be in 9-12th grade for the 2016-17 academic year
• Willing to challenge yourself
• Able to expose yourself to unfamiliar situations
• Looking for a human connection
• Serious about volunteering and giving back to a community
• Learning about a new community and why it is important to give back
• Immersing yourself in service in a different culture
• A Judaean!
Then Alternative Winter Break is a trip you should consider taking in 2016!