For many Jews living in the greater Chicago metropolitan area, it can be a challenge to find the most suitable way to contribute to the community, especially for those interested in Jewish-centered volunteer opportunities. Chicago offers a wide array of community service organizations, charities, and other nonprofits. Luckily, the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago (JUF) has an answer: the Tikkun Olam Volunteer (TOV) Network. Through TOV, Chicagoland Jews have a chance to make a difference, whether it’s in their community or across the country. A variety of options are available to fit their individual needs.
Based around “tikkun olam,” a Hebrew phrase that can be roughly translated as “repairing the world,” TOV provides Jewish community members with access to volunteer opportunities at JUF’s partnering organizations. Some of these programs are directly administered by the JUF, such as the JUF Uptown Cafe, Chicago’s first anti-hunger effort designed with kosher diets in mind, for those in need. Offering dinner three days a week and a Sunday brunch, the Uptown Cafe depends on its volunteers to manage the kitchen and providing fellowship to the cafe’s guests. Other TOV initiatives reach far beyond Chicago, including a recent disaster relief effort to rebuild an animal rescue shelter in Oklahoma.
In addition to its general programs, TOV offers numerous opportunities for volunteers with special skills or particular needs. JUF Community Legal Services, which provides volunteer opportunities for legal professionals, offers pro bono assistance for bankruptcy proceedings, estate documentation, family law concerns, and other civil matters. Younger volunteers will prefer options like TOV Teen Programming, which helps high school students fulfill volunteer requirements with monthly service initiatives, or Camp TOV, a community service summer camp. Other programs include TOV Reads, synagogue-specific initiatives, and the monthly Mitzvah Mania drives. For more information about how to volunteer, visit www.juf.org