Published: March 21, 2016
The following are excerpts from the final papers of students in Professor Nan Goodman’s Jewish Studies Internship class, Fall 2015. The students were asked to apply one of the concepts of social justice explained in Jill Jacobs’s There Shall be No Needy to the work they did in their internships. 
The Internship in Jewish Studies (JWST 3930) brings together Jewish Studies and students' professional paths by placing you in a non-profit organization, educational institution, political office, medical school, or other site for a semester of service learning. Our internship, then, brings students working at a diverse array of sites together for a weekly class, in which students learn how Jewish Studies can inform their professional lives. In Fall 2016, Prof. Eyal Rivlin, Hebrew Language Instructor for Jewish Studies, will supervise interns and design assignments tailored to your individual internship.
You come to us with your interests, and we place you! To apply, email us at
Brianna Kowal interned for Gift of Life, a Bone Marrow/Stem Cell donor organization:
“Tikun Olam emphasizes that single actions can have large-scale effects on humanity. According to the Talmud, “Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.” . . . The goal of my work for Gift of Life is to find a life saving DNA compatible Bone Marrow/Stem cell match, which will physically repair a member of society. Without this repair, perhaps the patient would not live long enough to raise his or her child or to continue in his or her career . . . [and] thus the world’s potential might not be reached.”

Idan Ghelber, Intern at the Boulder JCC:

“Consider two pendulums (pendulum-1 and pendulum-2) of equal mass and length (M and L), but different amplitudes (theta1 and theta2, where theta1 is no more than 5 degrees greater than theta2). Over a very small period of time, the motion of pendulum-1 would be almost identical to the motion of pendulum-2. However, as you let each pendulum swing back and forth for a long period of time, their respective motion become very different. . . . In physics, this phenomenon is an example of a “chaotic system.” A chaotic system is defined as having very different outcomes for small changes in initial conditions. . . . Similarly, “the innovation of the Lurianic model of tikkun is the suggestion that human behaviour can have an effect- positive or negative- on the world as a whole,” writes the author of There Shall be No Needy. “Mitzvot, both ethical and ritual, have an impact far beyond the immediate result of the action.” In other words, even the seemingly minute tasks I undertook during my time as an intern could greatly impact the Jewish community over a long period of time.”

Alexis Aaeng, Intern in the Post-Holocaust American Judaism Collections, Norlin Library:

“When I first started this internship in the Post-Holocaust American Judaism and the Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi Archives in Norlin Library, I did not see the direct connection that it had to Jewish tradition. . . . [But after reading] chapter two of Rabbi Jill Jacobs’s book, There Shall Be No Needy: Pursuing Social Justice through Jewish Law and Tradition . . . it became clear that the concept of tzedek has in some ways influenced the work that I am doing in the archives. . . . Tzedek means more than just righteousness and justice; it is a relational term. One practices tzedek in order to benefit the lives of others and in respect for those of the past. . . . My work in the archives directly relates to the notion of truth and justice. The documents with which I work all have something to do with the Holocaust, which still stands as one of the most devastating events in Jewish history. By reading, preserving, and making these documents easily accessible, I am doing my part to bring justice to those who passed during the Holocaust.”

Alexandria Harding, Intern for the Jerusalem Institute of Justice:

“When I first met Christopher, my supervisor at the Jerusalem Institute of Justice, I discussed with him what some of the tenets of the organization were. His response to me was that they were advocating for these groups and, unlike some other organizations, directly focused on the human rights abuses of both the people of Israel, and of the surrounding territories (The Gaza Strip, and the West Bank). This tenet of their philosophy spoke to me. As Jill Jacobs points out in There Shall be No Needy, the goal [of “tikkun olam”] is not to eradicate other religions, but to promote . . .. . peace. Through my work, I was exposed to differing viewpoints about religion. At points, this was difficult, but the approach that focused on human rights abuses was something that was refreshing to me.”