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Rabbi's Civil Rights Legacy Inspires Local Volunteers

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Jesse Rauch of the Young Education Professionals worked in the Boys and Girls Club stairwell along with his team members.
Angie Das
Jesse Rauch of the Young Education Professionals worked in the Boys and Girls Club stairwell along with his team members.

By Angie Das

Jessica Krivoy draws inspiration from the late Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who marched in 1965 with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Selma, Alabama. Heschel likened that experience to "praying with his legs."

Saying "because you have to work at revitalizing", Krivoy chose to organize more than just a ceremony for members of D.C.'s Sixth & I Historic Synagogue. She put together a team of volunteers for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday of Service, which was coordinated by Greater D.C. Cares, a service organization.

Even though it was the first time the synagogue fielded a service team for the national holiday, a group of seasoned volunteers showed up to answer the call. The team was assigned to a revitalization project at the Boys and Girls Club on Benning Road in Northeast where it joined individual volunteers and another team from Young Educational Professionals (Y.E.P.), a social networking group for people working in education.

The volunteers were dispatched to refresh the paint on doors, window frames and in stairwells.

"We're not painting a door, we're creating an environment, and that's what's exciting," said Elaine Amir, a volunteer and the executive director of the Montgomery County campus of Johns Hopkins University.

She joined friends, Gail and Quentin Fisher, who recently returned from a volunteer medical mission to Mali. They were inspired to join Monday's activities by the synagogue's MLK Shabbat. Speaking about the synagogue, Gail Fisher said, "it's got a lot of good energy. I love the diversity; it's a good place to feel at home."

Volunteer Jesse Rauch of Y.E.P. says because many of its members craft education policy, they are always seeking ways to connect with local communities. He says service days are how the group's more than 600 members help build social networks and give back to the community.

More than 40 people volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club where its director, Jerome Beaner, said he could feel a difference when he walked through the newly painted halls.

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