The Isaiah Initiative
We believe in the active pursuit of justice as an expression of our Jewish spiritual and religious selves. Indeed, this is central to IKAR’s vision: the integration of religious ritual, spiritual development, learning and social justice.
The Isaiah Initiative celebrates these commitments by making financial contributions to IKAR in recognition of the acts of justice and compassion performed by each of our members. Simply put: For every hour that members of our community spend making the world a bit sweeter, safer, cleaner or more fair and just, IKAR gets to redeem $18 from our Isaiah Fund and put it into our general operating budget. This initiative is designed to be mutually reinforcing: it encourages us to take our deepest torah to the streets, and in so doing, to build our spiritual community — which will in turn nurture our souls and inspire us to go out and do more good work. It also recognizes and honors the great value of non-monetary contributions in building our community and a better world. This initiative challenges us to act – and puts money where our hearts are.
By becoming a member of IKAR, each of us enters into a brit, a covenant, in which we make certain commitments to ourselves, our community and our world. The Isaiah Initiative is a concrete way of demonstrating that our commitments are real, by creating a culture of voluntarism and activism in our community.
Here is what you need to know:
Why was this program created?
The Initiative was designed with two primary objectives: first, to incentivize IKARites to take steps toward social change by actually doing the work of tikkun, healing, in our world; second, to demonstrate that non-monetary contributions are truly the cornerstone of our community. It usually takes enormous gifts of money to become a big maher (a big shot) — but at IKAR, the mahers are the people who walk the walk.
So this is a chance to contribute to IKAR by opening your heart and not your wallet. Credit card bills should be so flexible…
Who qualifies for this generous offer?
All IKAR members qualify, and this offer extends to all members of the family. Every project that you log will earn a contribution to IKAR.
What qualifies for this generous offer?
All work that you do to help support, sustain or enhance the IKAR community, and all volunteer social service or advocacy work qualifies. If you are part of an ongoing volunteer project, like PJA’s Jeremiah Fellows, or you volunteer every week at PATH (bless you), or you perform any type of service to the community (like setting up the oneg) your good work earns donations from the Isaiah fund to IKAR.
Now our acts of community service will benefit both the causes we believe in most and IKAR. Think of the Isaiah Initiative as double miles for your soul.
Who contributes to the Isaiah Fund?
The Fund was started by a generous anonymous donor family that made an initial commitment of $15,000 a year to the Initiative. As part of our membership brit, we are asking every single IKARite to make a contribution into the Isaiah fund. You can give us anything from $2 to $20,000, and our goal is to match our donor’s commitment annually (which would give us the potential of bringing IKAR upwards of $30,000 each year). Please check off your Isaiah Initiative contribution on your membership form.
How does this program work?
Every time an IKAR member feeds the hungry, works to end the genocide in Sudan, helps set up a Kiddush lunch, and so on, the Isaiah Fund will make a contribution to our operational budget, ensuring that IKAR can continue to serve and build our community.
What do you need to do?
We ask that you fill out an online form every month to submit the volunteer work that you have been doing. We don’t need any documentation – we just ask that you share the kind of work that you are doing, how many hours, and we’d love to know if/how it impacted you. For example: “IKAR Tikkun Sundays (6 hours) and worked on the Hurricane Relief effort (8 hours). The experience of volunteering at IKAR opened my eyes to… and the Hurricane Relief work opened my eyes to…” We’ll take it from there. It’s that easy.
When does the project start?
You can log now for any volunteer work you have done between July 1, 2006 and today. Please note: This offer extends to any member of your family who volunteers.
Why is it called the Isaiah Initiative?
From Isaiah 1:
“What do these abundant sacrifices mean to me?” asks the LORD. “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats… My soul hates your new moons and your appointed feasts; they have become a burden to me, I am weary of bearing them. When you spread forth your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.”
Isaiah voices God’s disgust with religious acts that are devoid of a sense of social responsibility. The prophet demands not that we abandon the ritual for the sake of the ethical, but rather he points out that the two are intrinsically linked. The religious life is precisely one in which our ritual celebrations fuel our commitments to the orphan and the widow, inspire us to work toward justice and against oppression. At IKAR we strive to fulfill the prophetic mandate to build an ethos of justice that is grounded in and reinforced by serious engagement with the Jewish tradition. The Isaiah Initiative is designed to amplify this critical connection by supporting IKAR when we successfully inspire the realization of prophetic Judaism.
So let’s go heal the world! It’s good for you, it’s good for IKAR, and most importantly, it’s great for our city and our world.