Service Learning and Alternative Spring Breaks
The ISJL can now help plan your service learning experience in the South! Spend a week in Mississippi learning about the Deep South’s distinct and complex history. Visit historic Civil Rights sites, spend time with Southern Jewish congregations, and engage with the local community in meaningful service.
Inspired by the legacy of Jewish volunteers during Freedom Summer who came to Mississippi in 1964, we invite students to spend a week in Mississippi with an understanding of the shoulders they are standing on. Many leaders and change makers involved in Mississippi during the Civil Rights movement look back on their time here as a formative moment and we hope that student volunteers will leave with similar memories.
Along with developing an itinerary and recommending service opportunities, the ISJL provides educational materials exploring Jewish, Civil Rights and Southern history. We believe that being in Mississippi provides the opportunity to have conversations that you wouldn’t normally have in your home community. Broken up into short interactive lesson plans, we’ve included our favorite essays, primary sources, and documentaries to give students a thorough and thoughtful overview of the Southern Jewish experience. These will serve as a supplement to the local Jewish representatives that will share their own contemporary experiences.
The goals are for students to not only learn about Mississippi, the past and present Jewish communities, and the role of social justice in the state, but to make connections to their own lives and experiences that will inspire positive social change in their home communities.
The ISJL will provide a Southern Jewish Heritage itinerary for a fee per day planned. We will schedule tours, speakers, and congregation visits for your group. We can offer recommendations, especially for addressing dietary needs; however ISJL will not make final travel, hotel or restaurant reservations.
For sample itineraries or more information about this enriching opportunity please email call 601-362-6357 or email Nora Katz!
Finding Yourself in the Jewish South:
Pre Trip Lesson: Legacy of Jewish Volunteers in Mississippi
●Freedom Summer Who were the volunteers? What were their motivations? What was the preparation?
●What was their impact?
●How can we use their experience as a model?
Lesson 1: Southern Jewish Identity
● What stereotypes come to mind about Jewish life in the South?
● How have Jews influenced and been influenced by their communities? How has Southern life given them distinctive opportunities and how has it restricted them?
● What can we learn about our own Jewish experience through exploring the diversity of the Jewish communities?
Lesson 2: Southern Jewish Responses to the Civil Rights Movement
● Were Jews similar to other Southerners in their approach to the Civil Rights Movement, or did they have a distinctively “Jewish” response?
● What were the social, economic, and political circumstances that caused Jews to take the positions they did?
● Why did some members of the Jewish community—such as rabbis—have different opinions about racial integration and civil rights than did other Jews?
● Does this challenge your understanding of Jewish dedication to social justice?
Lesson 3: Reflecting on Root Causes of Inequity in Mississippi
● What makes studying social justice in Mississippi unique?
● What is institutionalized racism?
● What are the roots of economic inequality? What systems, policies, laws, beliefs, institutions help preserve economic inequality?
● Do Jews have a social responsibility based on how they gained privilege in America?
Lesson 4: Reflection and Commitment
● What have we accomplished during our time in Mississippi?
● What have we learn from locals that inspire future commitment?
● How can we be Jewish social change agents in our community?
Alternative Spring Break participants:
University of Virginia Hillel, Charlottesville, VA
University of Missouri Hillel, Columbia, MO
American University Hillel, Washington, DC
University of Maryland Hillel, College Park, MD
Partnering with the ISJL
The ISJL works as a trip consultant and allows Hillel students and staff to play an active role in planning their trip experience. Based on initial conversations about the focus and interests of your group, we will use our network in the region to create a custom Southern Jewish Heritage itinerary.
The ISJL will:
Hillel staff and student leaders will: