Category Archives: AJSS 2015

Wear Sunscreen

Taste of Torah by Rafi Glazer, AJSS Director of Programs

Wear Sunscreen. This advice, while logical and straightforward, is also the beginning of one of the most common graduation songs of the late 90’s. Written first as a commencement day speech and turned into a spoken word song, it contains a large list of tips and advice to get the most out of life. As we get to the end of AJSS’s 65 Summer of Service, many adages come to mind that can be included in this week’s Taste of Torah. Like any good graduation or commencement speech, there are plenty of sayings that could be featured as information to pass on to a graduating class. As we will see below, there is no end to the helpful advice that we can get from a song like “Wear Sunscreen” or from this week’s Torah Portion. ...

Jammin’ in Memphis

By Max Schneider and Noah Koy

Our time in Memphis is flying by, but here’s a recap of life on JAM thus far.

On Saturday we met with Jen Stollman, the academic director at the Winter Institute, an organization that seeks to end discrimination. Jen talked to us about poverty and how to stop the association of stereotypes. Jen really knew how to talk–not just to teens–but to people, in general. She has a very intelligent view without being condescending. Jen was full of wisdom on all types of subjects, and patiently and thoroughly answered our questions related to stereotypes, race, and activism. Before speaking with Jen, most of us rolled our eyes at people who complained about song lyrics or stereotypes prevalent in our culture, but Jen changed our minds. She managed to use her knowledge about racial segregation and negative stereotypes to give us the knowledge to decide for ourselves that we should no longer sag our pants or sing along to the inappropriate and offensive words in songs. More importantly, it’s up to us to correct our friends or tell them not to say certain words that relate to stereotypes. That’s how we can make change and be part of a cultural shift. ...

When a Meal Is So Much More

By: Harper Glantz

What is it like to live alone as an elderly, blind, impoverished woman in Memphis, TN? What does it feel like to answer a knock at the door to sit at your familiar table while the strange volunteer takes your hand in theirs, guiding it over a warm meal tray and a cold milk carton?

Today our group worked with Meals on Wheels delivering one lunch meal to dozens of Memphians who could not provide it for themselves. Some of these people would have no other meals today besides this one. Some are eager to talk while others take the food and shy away from the door. Either way, the appreciation and necessity of receiving food from those we helped, was eye opening. While it was rewarding and empowering to help people through the challenge of one single meal, it’s a hard reality to comprehend our inability to solve the issue of providing people with sufficient access to food in the first place. ...

The Time is Now

Taste of Torah, by Rafi Glazer, Director of Programs

Ah, a trip down memory lane. Sometimes it can end in “remember the good times” while other times it can result in “what were we thinking?” Either way, memories can help us remember where we have gone and what we have done. That is why phrases like “back in the day” and #tbt have become part of our lexicon. Whether from the week before or from what feels like a lifetime ago, memories can be that connector to others, and that guiding line to how we should live our future lives.

In this week’s Torah portion, Ve’etchanan, Moses continues his trip down memory lane as he gives his final instructions to the Israelites before they make their way into the Promised Land. He touches on a number of situations where the Israelites did not trust in Moses or God, and the problems that ensued. He reminds them of the times when they did succeed, and that the source of their success will continue to be God and the Torah. God will never forsake the Israelites, even when they make bad decisions. Moses has the tone of a father sending his child off to college, reminding the child to make good decisions. ...

Hunger Helpers

By Shiryah Bar-Ness and Rachel Hyman

1 out of 6 people live in poverty.
17.2% of the population are at risk of going hungry.
1 out of 4 children go to bed hungry.
Oklahoma consistently ranks in the top 5 states in the number of people who are hungry.

Imagine going to sleep with nothing but an empty space and growing pain in your stomach. This may be a difficult scenario to envision because of our easy routine to simply grab a snack from the pantry or some leftovers out of the fridge. However, this is the tragic reality faced by 1 in 4 Oklahoman children daily. Despite these dire circumstances, one organization is trying to eradicate this statistic, as well as many others true to Oklahoma’s population. With 481,864,515 meals provided to hungry Oklahomans since 1980, the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma is putting up a strong fight. On July 20 and 27, AJSS partnered with their inspiring staff and volunteers to continue making an incredible impact. ...