A Shabbat Reflection – February 3, 2017
By Alaina Yoakum, Director of Marketing & Communications at URJ Camp Newman

We all want to pursue justice, immigration reform, and the protection of basic human rights, but where to start? There is one thing we can all unite behind as Reform Jews: the need for tikkun olam, for repairing our world. In that respect, we can all take a cue from Camp Newman’s Hevrah teens.


Since the 1980s, our Hevrah campers have been living the Jewish value of tikkun olam. Taking on such issues as education reform, food insecurity, and preventing gun violence, these rising 10th and 11th graders don’t just talk, they act. Guided by faculty and educators, they research and raise awareness on their topic, and then visit the state capitol in Sacramento to lobby senators on their own solutions and proposals. It’s social action on steroids, as these teens realize that united, they can be a greater force of change than on their own.

The Hebrew root of Hevrah, “chaver,” means a close-knit community. In Hevrah, these teens come together – bringing their separate viewpoints and backgrounds to the table but emerging with one strategy to affect an issue that matters to them. Let’s take a cue from our teens, and focus not on what divides us, but what unites us.

As Rabbi Jonah Pesner, of the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center, writes:

“As members of the largest and most diverse Jewish denomination in North America – which includes liberals and conservatives, Democrats, Republicans and independents alike – we have a responsibility, individually and collectively, to reject hate and help heal our nation. We are called to stand up for the values that are central to our Movement and now are threatened – a just immigration policy, universal health care, LGBT equality, and unfettered access to the ballot.”

As Reform Jews, we are already united. Together, in hevrah, in community, we can help make a change in our society. The Women’s March on January 21st and the protesters who spontaneously arrived at airports nationwide last weekend are perfect examples of that. Our synagogues have plenty of task forces you can join to help everyone from the homeless to refugees to prisoners. The Religious Action Center has a wealth of resources at the ready as well. And our summer camps are the perfect places to give your children a head start on practicing tikkun olam in a community of their peers. Together, in kehillah, we can truly make a difference.

Our Hevrah teens showed us how it’s done. Now, it’s our turn to take up the mantle.

For more on where our movement stands on these values and how you can respond, click below:

The Urgency of Now

This Resource Center will help you quickly seek out and act on the Reform Movement’s most urgent legislative action alerts and resources.



Advocacy page

Pick an issue you care about (like economic justice, environment, civil rights) and link to actions you can take right now:



Legislative Action Page

Here you will find a variety of action opportunities on key legislative issues. Click on any action item for info on the issue, then fill out the form to send a geo-targeted email to your elected officials voicing your views. Just press send — it’s that easy to tell Congress what’s on your mind!