The “J” in JFS is what makes our agency unique to many other social service agencies. Jewish history and values guide our work. But what does this mean for JFS programs, clients, donors, volunteers and staff? Four years ago, JFS set out to answer this question and Project Kavod/Dignity was born. Now, the project is a success and getting national recognition as model for turning Jewish values into action.
Led by Beth Huppin, Project Kavod helps deepen the work of JFS by embedding Jewish values and education into our programs.
“We don’t talk about what we do without talking about the values behind our work,” says Beth. “Judaism has a lens that is unique and thoughtful in responding to social service work.”
“Jewish tradition demands each of us value and honor the dignity of others as highly as our own,” says Rabbi Will Berkovitz, CEO of JFS. “And, Project Kavod helps us to continually connect what we do with why we do it in a Jewish context.”
Embedding Jewish Values in Our Work
Since Project Kavod began in 2015, Beth has seen the program grow and become a natural part of the way JFS staff collaborate and support one another. The values behind the work of JFS are part of nearly every event or discussion at the agency.
Beth has seen an increase in staff who come to her to discuss ways to better serve clients, and she makes sure family volunteer events, such as holiday basket making, have an educational component so that parents can have tools for teaching their children values through action.
Beth also leads a monthly “Exploring Dignity” discussion for staff and the greater community. These discussions have grown and cover topics from Jewish holidays to mental health and why vulnerability matters.
“People are interested and willing to be engaged in these conversations,” says Beth. “They want to know more about the values behind our work.”
A Model for Turning Values into Action
Now, other Jewish agencies are looking to Project Kavod as a model. Next week, Beth will be meeting with other agency members of the Network for Jewish Human Service Agencies interested in imbedding Jewish values and education in their own agencies. The meeting is hosted and funded by The Covenant Foundation.
“Project Kavod is a unique model when it comes to embedding Jewish education into a social service agency,” Beth says. “I’m excited that other agencies want to replicate it.”
A schedule of Exploring Dignity discussions with Beth Huppin and Project Kavod/Dignity can be found on the JFS Calendar. Beth is also available as a resource to rabbis and community leaders to discuss the work of JFS and the Jewish values that ground the agency’s work.