In all ways large and small, tikkun olam charges the Jewish community with the task of repairing and improving the world. This charge can manifest in many forms and happen in a variety of ways from individual to individual. Some volunteer time to help those less fortunate while others make charitable donations of money, food or essential household items. Whether on our own individually or partnered together with family, an organization or other entity, there are many ways to fulfill tikkun olam and trigger a tremendous transformation on our planet.
Though tikkun olam is timeless and ageless as a cause, and acts can be performed by those of all generations, it is still inspiring when children and teens are the ones giving more than anyone else.
Ninth-grader Kaja and third-grader Eve are two such examples. Both are members of Girl Scout Troop 3818, which is affiliated with Temple Emanuel of Tempe and is part of the Arizona Cactus-Pine Council. While not a traditional Jewish organization, the Girl Scouts mission statement almost perfectly aligns with tikkun olam.
“Girl Scouts is inclusive of all faiths and religions and has always encouraged girls to embed that into their Girl Scouting experience,” said Vianca Navarete, marketing communications specialist for the Girl Scouts Arizona Cactus-Pine Council. “We promote many of the values and principles found commonly across religions; these are in our Girl Scout Promise and Law. Girls of all grade levels can earn a ‘My Promise, My Faith Pin’, which complements existing religious recognitions and allows girls to further strengthen their connection between their faith and Girl Scouts.”
The Girl Scout Promise is a commitment members make to others, while the Girl Scout Law reflects the behavior members are expected to exhibit toward the world. These oaths include helping others and being honest, considerate, courageous and more, all in the name of making the world a better place.
The establishment of Troop 3818 occurred in January 2019 and was the brainchild of friends Jen and Rachel; Jen is Kaja’s mom, and Rachel is Eve’s mom.
“I really love volunteer work,” Kaja said, “so I decided to help my mom with the troop. At the time, I was also assisting the teachers at the religious school at Temple Emanuel. After I finished there, I’d go to the Girl Scout meetings and help out with them.”
She logged around 60 volunteer hours, which helped her to meet her requirements for her bat mitzvah. Kaja was also a faithful volunteer at Feed My Starving Children, and as vice president of her National Junior Honor Society, she was in charge of many of their charitable projects.
“I love empowering little girls to believe they can do anything,” Kaja said.
Kaja is definitely one young lady who is ‘walking the walk’ when it comes to empowerment. This academic year, she is out of state at a prestigious boarding school studying music. A flute player, her dream is to one day play professionally.
“To me, it’s essential to teach these little girls that they can make a difference in the world and then instill in them the empowerment to do so,” Kaja said. “And Girl Scouts does that everyday.”
While she does participate in a few clubs that do volunteer work, her current rigorous academic program does not allow much free time. Still, volunteering comes naturally to her, and she looks forward to continuing to work with Troop 3818 whenever she is back in Arizona.
Meanwhile, Girl Scout Eve took the initiative to launch a newspaper at her elementary school.
“I thought of the idea over the summer when I was looking at other schools’ papers,” Eve said. “My school didn’t have a paper. I wanted to start one, so I asked my principal, and I gathered up some friends. My principal said yes, so we made a newspaper.”
“She’s been the driving force in all of this,” Eve’s mom, Rachel, confirmed.
The monthly newspaper, which debuted on Oct. 25, included a recipe, fun facts, a teacher interview, a book report, a joke of the month, an illustration and a creative writing section. Editor-in-Chief Eve said she enjoyed the faculty interview and the piece she wrote on it.
In addition to being a go-getter journalist, Eve is also a fundraising ace. Independent of and separate from Temple Emanuel, her school, Girl Scouts or any other entity, Eve independently organized a clothing drive and three fundraisers for the Humane Society.
“She thought of the ideas on her own, and she executed them on her own,” Eve’s mother said, “but her initiative and inspiration came directly from being in Girl Scouts where so many leadership opportunities exist. We focus on having the girls lead. In the end, she raised quite a bit of money for the Humane Society.”
An animal lover who has a miniature schnauzer, Eve aspires to be a veterinarian. For now, though, she finds joy in being a Girl Scout and playing soccer.
“With its emphasis on respect, resources, being kind and giving, the Girl Scout Promise and Law feels very Jewish to me,” Rachel said. “Because of Girl Scouts, I’ve watched Eve develop superb leadership, public speaking and organizational skills.” JN