Work for the World – Service Learning
Tikkun olam (repairing the world) is an age-old Jewish value that teaches responsibility for the world around us. Our students learn this principle and live it at PJA by participating in such activities as:
- All-school donation drives
- Curriculum-based service projects in the Lower School
- Student-initiated service work in the Middle School
- Regular visits with Robison Home residents
- Support of life-long volunteering for our alumni
In keeping with the Jewish values of tzedakah (justice) and tikkun olam (repairing the world), each year students at PJA learn about local and global needs and how they can "Work for the World" by making a difference in these communities. Annual donation drives include:
- School supplies
- Thanksgiving food items
- Winter gear
- Pillows for Purim
- Passover foods
- Canned fruit for Shavuot
In addition, our students, parents and teachers are encouraged to take the initiative to implement additional collection drives in keeping with their passionate commitment to certain causes.
While each donation drives reflects the Jewish value of tzedakah, to open one's hand in giving, they only make up a small portion of the service learning opportunities that happen at PJA. Every lower school grade participates in at least one major volunteer project that connects to a unit of study. Examples include:
- Kindergartners make learning materials for a preschool in Zambia as part of their study of children around the world
- Third graders volunteer in the repacking room at the Oregon Food Bank as part of their exploration of the blessing after the meal (Birkhat HaMazon) and food issues in general
- Fourth graders remove invasive plant species at Tryon Creek State Park furthering their understanding of the native peoples and native species of the area, as well as their commitment to be stewards of the land
Throughout the year, middle schoolers participate in a host of community service activities, as well. These include those coordinated by teachers for Taglit (Discovery) week and other regular volunteer opportunities such as serving meals to the hungry at Blanchet House. As part of their Capstone experience, eighth graders design their own service projects with the variety of undertakings reflecting the myriad interests and strong level of commitment of the students.
While each school year sees its share of new service learning opportunities added to the mix, one element that remains constant is our commitment to the Robison Jewish Health Center. Each month a lower or middle school class visits the residents at Robison. These special intergenerational get-togethers add joy and meaning to all involved as the young and old connect and learn with and from each other.
In addition to all of the impressive volunteering that our students do while at PJA, they are provided with the middot (core values) and organizational tools to "Work for the World" for life. Our school is proud to honor the memory of a good friend of PJA by offering all alumni access to service learning grants from the Noam Stampfer Gemilut Chasadim Fund. Our graduates are encouraged to continue the great work they did at PJA by designing projects that fill a need within the local or global community; this fund provides financial support to make these projects come to be.