Tikkun Olam Fellowship

Applications for Spring 2023 are now open! Sign up today!

Questions? Contact Rabbi Shira!

The Tikkun Olam Fellowship for Service, Justice, & Learning is a paid opportunity for Hopkins students to perform community service, reflect on that service, and learn about Jewish views on social justice causes.

This elite fellowship will guide students in exploring their Jewish selves in the context of social responsibility and how they relate to their intersecting identities, social status, and values. Students will perform fifteen hours of community service over the course of the semester and use cohort time to reflect on that service. Students will learn about social justice causes and how to approach them through a Jewish lens.

For students who have completed the earlier fellowship taught by Rabbi Eric and anyone else who’s interested, there is also an option to perform service in an interfaith context by working with other religious groups on campus and discussing how religious values provide meaning and motivation for service.

And because your time is valuable, you’ll earn a $180 stipend!


Frequently Asked Questions

Why are you rebooting this fellowship? What do you hope to accomplish?

Hopkins Hillel’s mission is “to enrich the lives of Jewish undergraduate and graduate students so that they may enrich the Jewish people and the world.” We hope that by creating sustained service experiences, including opportunities for reflection and education, we will help our students enrich the world–starting right here in Baltimore. We want students to engage with the Baltimore community by learning from, listening to, and working alongside community partners. Covid interrupted the first cohort, so this is a reboot of the fellowship.

Along the way, we hope you’ll get to know your peers better, make some friends, learn some Torah, and explore your Jewish identity.

New option for students who completed previous service fellowships, like Avodah or Rabbi Eric’s Tikkun Olam. You can choose the interfaith track, where you’ll meet students from other religious backgrounds, join together in performing community service, build bridges between campus religious groups, and have the opportunity to discuss how religion provides meaning and motivation for service. This option is available to everyone, not only previously-trained students.

We ultimately hope that students will view Hopkins Hillel as an entry point for helping improve the world across difference, where, as the prophet Micah says, students can “Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).

What is Tikkun Olam, anyway?

The term tikkun olam (repairing the world) has its roots in the Mishnah, where it refers to legislation leading to social policy reforms. Later, the medieval mystics of Safed expanded the term to include performing mitzvot (commandments) that repair the universal brokenness that occurred during Creation.

Starting in the mid-20th century, tikkun olam means fixing the brokenness of our world today: performing social acts of kindness, volunteering, and advocating for social justice causes.

For more information, check out this article from My Jewish Learning.

What does the program entail? What are the requirements?

Students are expected to attend 10 discussion sessions and perform 15 hours of community service, at least 5 of which will be with or through the Hopkins Hillel community or with another fellow. Discussion sessions will include opportunities to get to know each other, reflect, and learn. Learning will focus on social justice topics through a Jewish lens. 2 excused absences are permitted.

Students are also expected to show up with an open mind and curious mindset. You don’t have to know everything–in fact, you don’t have to know anything!–but you do need to approach the work with humility, an openness to learning, and a willingness to hear others’ perspectives, even when you may disagree with them.

What do fellows get in return?

Upon the completion of the requirements:

  • Fellows will earn a $180 stipend each semester for their non-volunteer time. Your time is valuable and we want you to know that. While we believe that volunteerism should not be paid, your time outside of service—reflecting, learning, meeting with your classmates, etc.—deserves compensation.
  • Fellows will receive funding (or reimbursements) for coffee dates with their peers during the spring.
  • Fellows will have weekly opportunities to learn, reflect, grow, and challenge themselves in new ways.
  • Fellows will gain satisfaction in knowing that they are making a difference in their Hopkins and Baltimore communities, and will have laid the groundwork for future service.

How much does it cost?

Nothing—in fact, we will pay you! Fellows earn a $180 stipend to compensate them for their (non-volunteer) time. The only thing you’ll have to pay for, potentially, is travel to and from service opportunities. If this is poses a financial challenge, please reach out to Rabbi Shira for a confidential chat.

When and how often will we meet?

Fellows will meet weekly for an hour and a half (days and times TBD). Additionally, fellows are required to attend at least two speakers through Hillel or the Center for Social Concern (CSC), and perform 15 hours of community service on their own (and/or through Hillel).

Where will we meet?

All learning sessions will meet at Johns Hopkins Hillel, 3109 N Charles Street.

What does the application process look like?

Applicants must fill out an application, which will include questions such as why you want to join this fellowship. After submitting an application, candidates will meet with Rabbi Shira for an informational interview.

Who is an ideal candidate? What if I don’t know any Torah or have never volunteered?

It’s okay if you don’t know any Torah or you’ve never done much service or social justice work!

More important than any past experience are the characteristics you bring to the work. The ideal candidate won’t know everything–and should be willing to accept that (no Dunning-Kruger effect here!). Fellows should be willing to perform service, better the world, listen to community members, and explore their Jewish identities.

Students who have studied Torah deeply or have lots of service and justice experience are also encouraged to apply.

What if I’ve already done a Jewish service fellowship, like Avodah or Rabbi Eric’s Tikkun Olam Fellowship?

This fellowship has two tracks. If you’ve already completed Avodah or the Tikkun Olam Fellowship with Rabbi Eric, you can choose the interfaith track, where students students from other religious backgrounds join together in performing community service, build bridges between campus religious groups, and have the opportunity to discuss how religion provides meaning and motivation for service. The interfaith track is available to everyone, not only previously-trained students.

How will we perform service?

Fellows must perform 15 hours of community service, and we’ll help you find that service. Hopkins Hillel will partner with the Center for Social Concern (CSC) and use its platform, Hopkins Engage, to find service opportunities. We will also work with other community service opportunities. Rabbi Shira will provide ample resources for you to engage in service on your own or with your peers, and she will be there to help guide you if needed.

What topics will we learn?

Topics include:

  • Love your neighbor, love yourself (Vayikra [Leviticus] 19:18).
  • You are not required to finish the work, but you are not exempt from it (Pirkei Avot 2).
  • How Judaism, service, justice, and politics intersect
  • Judaism’s approach to racial, environmental, and economic justice
  • Hopkins and Hillel’s social responsibility to their host city of Baltimore

Will there be food?

Light snacks will be served.

What if I can’t join?

We’ll miss you! However, there are plenty of other opportunities for service, fellowship, and Jewish identity exploration.

For service, we’ll be offering service opportunities and speakers throughout the semester.

For fellowship, join one of our many student groups, attend a Friday night Shabbat service or dinner, come to any upcoming event, or reach out to one of our staff members who can point you in the right direction.

For Jewish identity exploration and learning, check out the Jewish Learning Fellowship (or, if you’ve already participated, become an intern), as well as other classes offered by our rabbis.

And make sure you’re signed up for our newsletter to receive event updates!

What if I have further questions?

Reach out to Rabbi Shira and she’ll help answer questions or guide you through the process.

How do I sign up?

Click here to register today!