The Holidays Are Over, The Needs Persist

It’s Not Often That I Use This Forum For Public Good

Well, that’s a change in what I usually write about, but in the spirit of the holiday season and of giving, I want to tell you about Tikkun Olam and how my eldest child has made it more than a career.

"Tikkun olam" (literally, "world repair") has come to connote social action and the pursuit of social justice. The phrase has origins in classical rabbinic literature and in Lurianic kabbalah, a major strand of Jewish mysticism originating with the work of the 16th-century kabbalist Isaac Luria.
Today the expression is used to suggest that it is the obligation of Jews to repair the world, i.e. feed the hungry, clothe the needy and do good deeds for others. There are many more spiritual interpretations of the phrase, but this is not the place to discuss them.

The learning of Tikkun Olam is something that is taught since Man is not naturally interested in helping others. A person tends to think of their own personal needs first, and then if they have time, they consider the needs of others less fortunate than they.

I realize we all have children, grandchildren and other family members about whom we can be proud, but I’d like to share this space with the reasons I am so proud of my daughter.
She’s one of those people who never like to be in the limelight. She does her thing and doesn’t seek personal recognition. So, it’s up to me to tell a little about one of her projects.

Since I’m absolutely certain this trait of Tikkun Olam was conveyed to my children by my late wife Dori, and not by your friendly author. (OK, I’ve done my share of community work and made contributions to important causes just as many of you have done.) Yet, to have two children devote their careers to helping others has to have come from someone. While I may have made encouraging suggestions in that direction, surely what both my daughter and son do in their daily lives has to have had the influence of their mother, far more than mine.

Back to the story. About ten years ago, my daughter who has her Masters (2) in Social Work and Counseling saw a very specific need in her community. She is the Social Worker at South Mountain High School in Phoenix, Arizona.

South Mountain serves a diversified lower income community and is located in the barrio. About two-thirds of the students are Hispanic, another 20% African American and the balance Caucasian and Native American. Since the school is a magnet school for the arts, it has a most interesting student body. Certainly more interesting than the very pure high school I attended.

As the Social Worker who sees so many things with kids in her school, my daughter recognized the need many families had when Thanksgiving rolled around. She thought these families, many first generation ones in our country, didn’t have the wherewithal to have a traditional Thanksgiving holiday. They couldn’t afford the turkey and all the fixings. So, she began to ask others on staff if they would be willing to donate a few dollars to spread the joy of the Thanksgiving holiday. She would personally peruse the grocery store advertisements, take whatever funds available, and purchase food for an entire meal. Meals would be delivered to the homes of the students in need.

Her initial effort has grown to now include Christmas meals as well. Not only has the high school staff and administration joined the effort with financial assistance, so too has the student body through its student government. Many student groups now raise funds for these efforts. Recently, this effort has even led to helping the homeless find a place to live. Clothes, canned goods and food for the holidays now reach those in need. This year more than 50 families will have a holiday meal thanks to these efforts..

You, too, can help, even if the holidays are past. Send any donation to:

Social Worker,
South Mountain High School,
5401 S. 7th Street,
Phoenix, AZ 85040

You’ll feel better and you will be helping those less fortunate than you. Thanks.

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