Tikkun Olam Fellowship

The Tikkun Olam Fellowship for Service, Justice, & Learning is a paid, year-long 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 ask students to push themselves out of their comfort zones as they explore their Jewish selves and how they relate to their intersecting identities, privilege, and values. Students will perform twenty hours of community service each semester and use cohort time to reflect on that service. In the fall, students will learn about social justice causes and how to approach them through a Jewish lens. In the spring, students will take what they’ve learned, listen to their peers, and then create a service project or campaign that addresses the needs of the community.

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

REGISTRATION IS CLOSED FOR 2021-2022, BUT IF YOU’RE INTERESTED IN THIS FELLOWSHIP OR OTHER SERVICE/JUSTICE WORK, PLEASE CONTACT RABBI ERIC.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are you starting this new 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.

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

We ultimately hope that students will come to see Hopkins Hillel as a place to help improve the world, 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 mystics of Safed elaborated on the term, teaching that it refers to performing mitzvot (“commandments”) to repair the ethereal brokenness that occurred during Creation.

Starting in the mid-20th century, tikkun olam has come to mean 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?

This year-long fellowship involves commitments from students in both the fall and the spring semesters.

For each semester:

  • Students will perform 20 hours of community service (per semester), at least 5 of which will be with or through the Hopkins Hillel community or with another fellow.
  • Students will attend all discussion sessions with the other fellows (10 in the fall, 12 in the spring). These sessions will include opportunities to get to know each other, find service, reflect, and learn. In the fall, learning will focus on social justice topics through a Jewish lens, and in the spring, students will prepare for and plan their service project. Students are permitted 2 excused absences each semester.
  • Students will attend at least two speakers or special workshops put on through Hillel and/or the Center for Social Concern (TBD).

In the fall:

  • In the discussion sessions, students will learn about and discuss social justice issues through a Jewish lens.

In the spring:

  • Students will meet with five friends/classmates to discuss their needs and vision for the community.
  • Based on what they learned in the fall and from their peers, students will work together to design a social justice or service project/campaign to serve the needs of the community. This project can be singular, one-off experience or a recurring event. If students so choose, they may continue the project after the fellowship ends.

Additionally:

  • Students must show up with an open mind. 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.
  • As this is the pilot year for this fellowship, students must be flexible with changes in the program. We won’t change everything or major requirements, but please be prepared for some slight adjustments throughout the year.

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 money (or reimbursements) for coffee dates with their peers during the spring.
  • Fellows will have weekly opportunities to learn, reflect, grow, and push themselves in new ways.
  • Fellows will feel satisfaction in knowing that they are making a difference in their Hopkins and Baltimore communities, and will have laid the groundwork for future service.

Do I have to sign up for the whole year?

Yes. The purpose of this fellowship is to dig deeply into social justice causes and the Jewish approach to them, and to form strong bonds between cohort members. Because this experience culminates in a group service project, it will take the whole year to build enough knowledge to get to that point. If you cannot attend the whole year, there will be plenty of other opportunities for learning and 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 Eric for a confidential conversation.

When and how often will we meet?

Fellows will meet weekly on Wednesday evenings from 6:00-7:30 in both the fall and the spring. Additionally, fellows are required to attend at least two speakers through Hillel or the Center for Social Concern (CSC), and perform 20 hours of community service on their own (and/or through Hillel).

Fall 2021 schedule (10 sessions, Wednesdays 6-7:30pm):

  • September 22
    Note that Sept. 22 is a holiday during the day, and so we might delay or reschedule this session if needed.
  • September 29
    Note that Sept. 29 is a holiday during the day, and so we might delay or reschedule this session if needed.
  • October 6
  • October 13
  • October 20
  • October 27
  • November 3
  • November 10
  • November 17
  • (Off for Thanksgiving Break)
  • December 1

Spring 2022 schedule (12 sessions, Wednesdays 6-7:30pm):

  • January 26 (first week of classes)
  • February 2
  • February 9
  • February 16
  • February 23
  • March 2
  • March 9
  • (Off for Purim)
  • (Off for Spring Break)
  • March 30
  • April 6
  • April 13
  • April 20
  • April 27 COMMMENCEMENT

Where will we meet?

All learning sessions will meet at Johns Hopkins Hillel, 3109 N Charles Street, room TBD. We will follow university guidelines for gathering (e.g., wearing masks). Please see our latest COVID-19 update for more info.

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, by Sunday, September 12, at 11:59pm. After submitting an application, candidates will sit down with Rabbi Eric for an interview, either in person or over Zoom. Ultimately, 8-12 students will be chosen as fellows.

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 table. The ideal candidate won’t know everything–and should be willing to accept that. Fellows must be willing to do service, better the world, listen to community members, and explore their Jewish identities.

Students who have studied a lot of Torah or have tons of experience with service and justice are also encouraged to apply.

What if I’ve already done a Jewish service fellowship, like Avodah?

Then let’s talk! This fellowship may or may not be for you, as it includes some introductory ideas. That being said, if you’re interested, you should speak with Rabbi Eric to see if this program is a good fit.

How will we perform service?

Fellows must perform 20 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 Repair the World Baltimore for Jewish and other community service opportunities. Rabbi Eric will provide plenty of resources for you to go out and do service on your own or with your peers, and he will be there to help guide you if you need it.

What will a typical session involve?

In the fall, a typical session may involve activities to get to know each other, opportunities for discussion and reflection on the community service we’ve performed, learning about social justice from a Jewish perspective, and various logistics.

As of right now, due to our COVID-19 policies, we cannot host meals together in the building. However, if the weather allows for it, we’ll try to have meals outside. See our COVID-19 policies for more information.

What topics will we learn?

While we’re still writing the curriculum, topics may include:

  • Love your neighbor, love yourself
  • How Judaism, service, justice, and politics intersect
  • Judaism and racial justice
  • Judaism and environmental justice
  • Baltimore, Hopkins, and Hillel

Will there be food?

Hopkins Hillel follows the university’s COVID-19 policies, including those on meals. If possible, we will have meals and/or snacks, and hopefully indoors. However, as the semester begins, eating indoors is limited to momentary snacking. If and when things open up, we’ll offer meals again. We might also get creative (e.g., outdoor dining). Click here for our Hillel COVID-19 policies.

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 Eric and he’ll help answer questions or guide you through the process.