Union for Reform Judaism Brings Young Adults to New Orleans for Holiday Volunteering

During Christmas week, 29 members of the Young Adult Mitzvah Corps, a program of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), will be volunteering in New Orleans. Under the supervision of Rebuilding Together New Orleans’ (RTNO) skilled construction staff, the volunteers will help renovate the Broadmoor home of Mr. Willie Jefferson, a retired auto-mechanic. Mr. Jefferson and his wife, who have eight grandchildren, lived in a FEMA trailer for a year following Hurricane Katrina and have been living in their unfinished house since 2007.

The Jewish volunteers were inspired to serve by the overwhelming need that still exists in New Orleans, and by the opportunity to put their religious ideals into action. “The concept of tikkun olam, repairing the world, is often at the root of Jewish social justice work and activism. But rarely does it apply more directly than in our work this week with hammers and paint brushes, repairing a bit of New Orleans,” said Barbara Weinstein, Legislative Director for the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.

URJ chose to work with RTNO because of the organization’s successful track record of putting volunteers from around the country to work on rebuilding houses. Last year, Rebuilding Together New Orleans hosted another Jewish group over Christmas. “We hope to make the Jewish Christmas workweek an annual tradition!” said Camille Lopez, Assistant Director of RTNO. “It’s a fantastic way to engage volunteers in the spirit of service.” Since Katrina, the organization has renovated over 125 homes for low income homeowners in Broadmoor, Tremé, St. Roch, Holy Cross and Hollygrove.

The URJ volunteers will be working at the site for three days, from December 22nd to Christmas Eve

Rebuilding Together New Orleans is a local affiliate of Rebuilding Together which has restored and revitalized more than 100,000 homes over the past 20 years. Utilizing volunteer labor, Rebuilding Together allows low-income families in communities across the country to live in comfort, safety, and dignity.

Young Adult Mitzvah Corps is a project of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews. 29 adults from across the U.S. between the ages of 25-35 are participating in this 5 day trip, studying and working together and helping to rebuild New Orleans.

For more information, please contact:

Camille Lopez, RTNO at 504.388.0214 or clopez@prcno.org

Barbara Weinstein, URJ at 202.841.6327

Lynn Long, L2 Media at 504.669.0576