bs"d In one sentence: the eye-opening experience of a lifetime. JOI is not only an organization. It's a caring, warm, welcoming and empowering community. With a carefully planned pedagogical syllabus, and a passionate and knowledgeable staff, JOI puts together a hands-on community building and community organizing program led by some of the most experienced community organizers and scholars who join efforts in creating an environment that fosters open, heated and intellectual debates. Its network of mentors, past alumni and volunteers is a most resourceful tool to promote personal and social change that is long-lasting and effective. One of the most fascinating aspects of my experience at JOI is that we DO make a difference. Every Friday before Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath), we sit together, learn from each other, exchange information and create a support group that causes a great impact in the grassroots work that we do. You feel Tikkun Olam (the Jewish ideal to repair and make the world a better place) is not an abstract concept but rather is a reality and its pursuit becomes a lifestyle. Many times I walked into communities whose degree of exposure to Jews ranged from a feeling of hostility and animosity to complete ignorance and lack of awareness. My work in low income communities not only helped improve the condition of populations that lacked public health awareness or knowledge of workers' rights, but also helped break stereotypes and stigmas. It was a truly transformative experience to walk into Churches, community centers, local community gatherings and underserved areas and see that our work is empowering people, challenging views and even saving lives. All that I owe to JOI. And JOI is not only limited to the 50 states. Its impact can be felt anywhere from Argentina and the slums of Brazil to Russia and the Middle East as some of its volunteers like myself, return to their countries to impact local communities after having contributed to the beautiful fabric of the Human Rights and Social development efforts in the US.
I had the honor of being a JOI Fellow during the '07-'08 Fellowship year. It would not be an overstatement to say that doing JOI was one the best decisions that I have ever made. Not only did I learn an incredible array of practical tools to do better social justice work I met an incredible array of people and was transformed Jewishly. During my fellowship year we were trained by some of the most thoughtful and talented organizers and Jewish leaders that I have ever come across. I have been able to use the things I learned at every turn in my work as a community organizer and had my Jewish identity strengthened in the process. As an active member of the JOI alumni community I continue to learn a lot from my relationship with JOI and I continue to grow as a Jew and as a person.
I am a JOI alumnus (05-06). JOI is an incredible organization! I gained so much as a fellow, both personally and professionally, that I still seek to give back. I am currently a buddy to a current JOI fellow and co-chair of the PR committee. JOI has changed the face of progessive Jewish Boston. JOI fellows and alums are deeply involved in local social change work in Jewish communities and beyond.
I am currently a fellow with JOI. Even before I started my fellowship year, I saw how JOI had created a network of progressive young Jews working for change and I wanted to be a part of it. The JOI program is even better than I ever imagined. I loved school and attended a great University (Wesleyan) but the intentional learning community created by JOI far exceeds these past educational experiences. It's shocking to realize how much I've learned and grown in just a few weeks of JOI. Not only have I made progress as an organizer, but JOI really opened my eyes to a way practice Judaism meaningfully, something which I hadn't even realized I was missing. The only major change I would make to JOI is that it should be bigger and in more places. I know they have the desire and ability to make that leap, if they can just find the funding.
JOI changed my life forever. Before my fellowship year, I worked at a marginally effective non-profit and was frustrated with how slow and imperfect our efforts at change were. Once in JOI, I learned the real skills necessary for tikkun olam, practiced them, and developed those skills as a spiritual practice that connected my to long-ignored Judaism. Now my pursuit of justice is more powerful, effective, and personally transformative. I cannot imagine how empty my life would be without everything and everyone I've learned from at JOI.
My experience as a JOI Fellow was wonderful. JOI, while a small organization, uses the resources, including alumni, community members, experienced organizers, and the Boston Jewish community, at its disposal incredibly effectively to achieve its goals of training Jewish social justice leaders. Throughout the year I was a JOI Fellow, and now, as an alumna, I am very aware of the resources I have access to that will help me continue to develop as an organizer and a leader. JOI is well grounded in its values, and that is apparent in everything that JOI does.
The Jewish Organizing Initiative is a fabulous organization that is slowly transforming the social justice world in Boston---through the intentional cultivation of young leaders in organizing. JOI has changed the way that I look at the world and given me a radical new set of skills with which to address injustice. Never before have I been in a community that challenges me as persistently and effectively as this.
I have been involved with a number of organizationsn that have had JOI fellows and I have known a number of JOI fellows. Each fellow has made, at a young age, a major impact on the organization they serve and directly on the people at the organization. There are few non-profits that can claim that and mean it. If we could clone JOI and have in every major city, the impact would really be transformational. I think the aspect of JOI that I really love is the connection between organizing and its roots in Jewish history and text. This makes so much sense to me and can strentghten both the Jewish and the organizing communities at the same time.
My experience at JOI was one of the defining moments of my early career and has critically impacted the way I approach my work and see the world! Learning how to develop others' leadership and organize around issues impacting a community are skills that have greatly benefitted me in my subsequent jobs and experiences. I also gained a new awareness of how inequalities manifest themselves in society and what we can do to change the status quo. Being part of JOI also enabled me to plug into a vast network of social justice and Jewish resources and organizations in the greater Boston community, and gave me the opportunity to meet amazing community leaders, activists and friends.
The Jewish Organizing Initiative is an incredible program. It trains jewish young adults to be leaders in the jewish community, and act effectively for real lasting social change. It has re-engaged me into the Jewish world, help me understand my own Jewish identity and has taught me valuable leadership skills. I am a much better organizer because of JOI.