Partnering with BBYO to Teach Torah and Do Tikkun Olam

The Torah teaches us the importance of collective responsibility: “Do not stand idly on the blood of your neighbor” (Lev. 19:16). This mandate is one that guides the work of Jewish Hospital and KentuckyOne Health, as we work to bring healing in an increasingly violent world.

Our antiviolence initiatives span the gamut from preventative initiatives for children to interventions for those who are caught in the cycle of violence. Unfortunately, sometimes it seems like there are opportunities to fulfill this commandment everywhere we look.

This month, I would like to talk about how this issue affects our teens, not just from one neighborhood but all neighborhoods, across our country. Statistics tell us that one in three teens experiences physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse at the hands of a dating partner. All of our kids are at risk, and this in turn predisposes them to further violence, as well as addiction and poor health outcomes.

The Torah commands us to respond. On Sunday, March 13, we will have an opportunity to do so. Jewish Hospital and KentuckyOne Health have partnered with the B’nai Brith Youth Organization (BBYO) to create an innovative educational program for all Jewish teens in Louisville, thanks to a grant from J-Serve. This important event will take place at the Muhammed Ali Center on Sunday, March 13, 2-5 p.m. and will serve as our community’s J-Serve Tikkun Olam Day. For more information, contact myself, or Michael Steklof at the JCC,

J-Serve helps more than 11,000 Jewish teens from around the world to come together to serve their communities and make a difference. J-Serve believes that the spirit of tikkun olam, (repairing the world) and tzedakah (just and charitable giving), is realized whenever people come together to better our world. One person in their hometown can make a difference, but when thousands of teens work together, they change the world.

This special day reflects months of planning between the leaders of BBYO and PACT in Action. PACT in Action (Parkhill, Algonquin & California Teens in Action) is a teen dating violence prevention initiative of The Center for Women & Families and KentuckyOne Health, and funded by Catholic Health Initiatives Mission and Ministry Fund.

PACT in Action is a community-based, youth-led initiative that works to mobilize teens in these neighborhoods to achieve a 10 percent reduction in the incidence of domestic violence by the year 2020 ( We will achieve this goal by equipping youth with the knowledge and skills necessary to support and lead efforts to reduce teen dating violence, increasing the engagement and accessibility of caring adults and enhancing the knowledge, skills and engagement of all community members to improve the built environment in ways that will reduce this problem.

This innovative program puts prevention to work to eliminate teen dating violence before it happens by focusing upon approaches that strengthen individual knowledge and skills, promote community awareness, foster coalitions and influence policy and legislation – the real way to make lasting impact.

By bringing together teens from different communities, and providing them with a structured opportunity to learn from each other and address an issue that, sadly, unites them and knows no boundaries, this innovative program has an additional benefit of helping to build even greater understanding and paths for peace and healing in our city.

These teens are modeling the important work of tikkun olam, and my prayer is that when they talk to their children, they will be able to speak to an incredulous generation that cannot believe or accept that violence was ever as prevalent as it now is.

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