This post is a part of a series highlighting the social entrepreneurial ventures that each of the 2015 PresenTenseLA Fellows will be unveiling at PresenTenseLA Launch Night on June 9th. The Fellows were given the prompt “What’s so Jewish about your project?” and over the course of the series we will be sharing their answers and exploring the nature of Jewish change-making.
Edward Pakdaman – Process Green
Giving is an obligation in Judaism and some sages have said that tzedakah is the highest of all commandments. “A minimum of one-tenth of one’s income belongs to G-d, and should be used for charity. This is a measure handed down from the Patriarchs, as Jacob himself said to G-d, ‘Of all that You give me, I will set aside a tenth to You’” (Genesis 28:22).
We are blessed to have so many great nonprofit organizations that are dedicated to alleviating humanity’s most difficult issues through their uniquely designed programs and services. They rely on donations and have made it their mission to focus on tackling these problems.
Process Green raises funds for these noble nonprofits. Credit card processing services are a necessity for businesses and there are many costs associated with them. Our credit card processing services forward 10% of profits (generated from fees) and are donated to the nonprofit of the business’s choice. We are giving tzedakah with every single transaction made. Now, slices of pizza are helping to find a cure for cancer. Your new clothes can aid disaster relief organizations. Buying coffee just gave a temporary home to a domestic abuse victim. The possibilities are endless and we are doing it together through the power of tzedakah.
Marissa Nuckels – The Homestead
The Homestead is a Jewish Urban Farm and Spirituality Center. Fusing together ethics and practices of Judaism and permaculture, the Homestead is a living model for a sustainable, spiritual, holistic lifestyle.
At the core of it, The Homestead is founded on several Jewish values. Focused on brit (“partnership”), The Homestead is all about nurturing connection—between a person and his body / soul / tradition / community / environment / and the divine—through working in the garden, participating in electric-alive community events, Jewish meditation and yoga classes, etc.
Then there’s na’aseh v’nishma (“learning by doing”). The Homestead offers DIY workshops where you make your own everything—Kiddush wine, Shabbat candles, Passover cleaning products, Shavuot non-dairy cheeses, Chanukah olive oil, and more! We’re hands-on and hands dirty! And of course, Shabbat is the highlight at The Homestead! Taking a break from work on the farm, we open our doors in the spirit of hachnasat orchim and invite everybody to come and taste Shabbat through spirited Kabbalat Shabbat song circles, festive farm-to-table meals, epic outdoor Torah chantings, and moonlit Havdallah jams. The Homestead’s mission is to get back to the roots of Judaism—outside in nature, and full of life and depth!
Donna Maher – You Are Beautiful
You Are Beautiful is a program designed to empower teenage girls to develop and maintain a healthy self-esteem so they can reach their fullest potential. With 7 in 10 girls believing they are not good enough or do not measure up in some way, the workshop addresses issues that teenage girls are challenged with on a daily basis, including self-compassion, body image, and nutrition. The workshop also creates a safe space for dialogue and peer counseling and creates a level of relatedness and understanding among teen girls and their peers. The program is offered to teenage girls from all cultural and religious backgrounds and socioeconomic levels.
You Are Beautiful exercises the Jewish value of tikkun olam, which literally means “world repair.” The value is commonly used to refer to the pursuit of social action and social justice and refers to fixing what is broken in our society. You Are Beautiful is a way of alleviating the issue of low self-esteem in our society, one girl at a time. Tikkun olam applies to all communities and can also refer to repairs performed on an individual level.