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[LEFT] Katie Lagasse’s pre-k class giving their boquet of flowers to Karen steiger, and [RIGHT] Camp Shalom at the Dayton Food Bank. Photos courtesy of Katie Lagasse and Peter Wine

The cliché is true: there’s no Jewish holiday celebration that doesn’t involve food! At the JCC, it’s also true that a holiday celebration isn’t complete without the opportunity for our community to partake in tikkun olam, the Jewish value of repairing the world. Tikkun olam is the thread that connects JCC program participants to this core fundamental aspect of what it means to be Jewish. This tradition reaches all ages of program participants, from toddlers to seniors.

The very youngest members of our community learn about tikkun olam in the JCC’s Early Childhood classrooms. Lead Teacher Katie Lagasse has her pre-K class participate in “Mitzvah Magic!” Once, every child brought in a single flower to create a beautiful bouquet to present to our front desk Administrative Assistant, Karen Steiger. Another time, the children made thank you cards for their music teacher, Miss Mary, who visits every week to play guitar and sing with them.

The children also participate in Mitzvah Magic at home by making their beds or helping with the dishes without being asked. At school the children hold the door open for their teachers, or empathize with a friend who’s in distress by sharing a toy or a special sticker. Miss Katie explains, “I want the children to learn to do mitzvot because it makes Hashem smile, not so they get recognition or a reward from their teachers.” She teaches the children that it’s their job to take care of the earth. “That’s why Hashem put us here.”

As the children grow, so does their participation in Tikkun Olam. Summer camp for kids is typically a time of sunshine, swimming, arts and crafts and friends. At the JCC’s Camp Shalom, it’s also a time to think of others.

I want the children to learn to do mitzvot because it makes Hashem smile, not so they get recognition or a reward from their teachers.

~ Katie Lagasse
JCC preschool teacher

I want the children to learn to do mitzvot because it makes Hashem smile, not so they get recognition or a reward from their teachers.

~ Katie Lagasse
JCC preschool teacher

I want the children to learn to do mitzvot because it makes Hashem smile, not so they get recognition or a reward from their teachers.

~ Katie Lagasse
JCC preschool teacher

Last summer the campers visited the urban garden at the Dayton Food Bank to plant seeds in their vegetable beds and learn about the services the Food Bank provides to members of our community who are food insecure. Campers have also served St. Vincent de Paul, Gateway Shelter for Women and Families. With Jewish Family Services, they chopped vegetables for soup to donate to the shelter and also made “stained glass” mosaics using tissue paper to decorate the windows at the entrance of the building.

This summer, our campers made cat toys to donate to SICSA, a pet adoption center. Dr. Lindsey Roth, SICSA veterinarian and parent of a Camp Shalom camper shares, “Cat toys can’t be easily disinfected so we use a lot of them!”

Our teens and pre-teens recently planned and implemented an original project for J-Serve: a day of service for Jewish youth. Rachel Crafton, the lead teen on the 2019 J-Serve project, has a passion for art and creativity. She also cares about raising awareness of mental health issues. These two themes acted as the inspiration for an Art Therapy Workshop, with an emphasis on the therapeutic and mental health benefits gained from participating in a creative process.

The teens ran the workshop, consisting of four stations, at the Dayton Metro Library on a Sunday afternoon. Nearly 40 members of the community, from toddlers to seniors to adults with special needs, participated in the workshop.

Camp Shalom CIT & LIT Bake sale for Tornado Relief Fund. Photos by Peter Wine

Adults in the community also spend time giving back and repairing the world. The JCC’s Women’s Seder serves as a motivation for women to use their positions in the community to combat the “modern plagues” afflicting our society. Women from various backgrounds, Jewish and others, come together for an evening to share hopes of peace and freedom for all-Tikkun Olam.

The theme of this year’s seder was “Alleviate Hunger: Nourish Our Community, Feed Your Soul.” The modern plagues included food insecurity, violence, pollution and war, and inaction in the presence of evil. Women were encouraged to bring a donation of food items to give to House of Bread, an organization that provides a hot, nutritious lunch to anyone in need. Past years, the collections have included baby clothes and diapers, peanut butter and toys.

Even during one of the most joyful times of the year—Chanukah, the festival of lights, we think of others. Our Early Childhood children have brought in books for Project Reads from their personal collection, donated gently-used winter clothing and toys, as well as participated in canned food drives. During the JCC’s Community Chanukah Celebration we encouraged community members to bring a donation of a toy or game for Care House, an organization serving the needs of abused and neglected children.

No matter the program, Tikkun Olam is at the center of what we do. We invite you to join us as we continue to work toward repairing the world!.

For more information about Tikkun Olam at the JCC, please contact Jane Hochstein, JCC Director at (937) 401-1545 or jhochstein@jfgd.net.

[LEFT] The 2019 Women’s Seder, and [RIGHT] Levi Glaser decorates a card at Yom Ha’Atzmaut for an IDF Soldier. Photos by Peter Wine

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