By Noah F & Ari

On February 24 Kelsey Long (Project Policy Analyst) and Sanjana Marpadga (Program Associate) from EatSF came to speak to our class. EatSF is a non-profit organization that helps people get the fruits and vegetables that are needed to be healthy. The program was founded by Dr. Hilary Seligman, a nationally recognized expert on the intersection between food insecurity and health. In collaboration with the Board of Supervisors’ Food Security Task Force and in support of the 2013 Resolution committing the City and County of San Francisco to be food secure and hunger-free by 2020 which still is yet to happen. EatSF was originally designed to address the unique food security issues in San Francisco. Its goal is to provide an equitable food system everywhere, improve food security, encourage healthy eating, and to eliminate food deserts. One out of five households do not purchase any vegetables. Vegetables and fruits are more expensive and harder to grow. Participants can get both fresh and frozen produce. Not having healthy food can cause obesity, diabetes, cancer, and other nasty stuff. A healthy amount of vegetables is 5 servings a day. 44% of low-income SF residents cannot afford nutritious food. Only 25% of kids eat 5 servings of produce a day (recommended). There are places where it is almost impossible to get produce (food deserts).

EatSF vouchers are both similar to and different from SNAP. Unlike SNAP, where you can get a card that has money to buy anything from the store both healthy and/or unhealthy food, EatSF gives you a voucher that has money on it and you can only buy fresh fruits and vegetables. It is similar because it reaches low-income people, but it also reaches people who have dietary chronic diseases, SSI/SSDI (people with disabilities), pregnant women, food-insecure people, people who can’t qualify for SNAP, and women, infants, and children.

EatSF has 120 partners that range from social workers and clinics that give out vouchers to participate in the program for 6-months. To places that sell fruits and vegetables like corner stores, farmers markets and grocery stores. After 6 months, participants can re-enroll. EatSF tries to keep the process of enrolling simple. Participants fill out a form when they enroll and again when they re-enroll. 91% of participants say that they eat healthier food. Once participants enroll, they are able to walk down to their corner store or local grocery with their vouchers to purchase produce. If you want to donate to help give someone access to fruits and vegetables, or you just want to learn more click here.


Bar & Bat Mitzvah Tzedek Projects

By Hannah & Zoe S.

We interviewed a few students from each grade in middle school. We were curious to see if they did or will do a Tzedek project for their Bar or Bat mitzvah? If so, what was it?  And why did they choose that specific project?



Luka, eighth grader: He volunteered at Glide because he likes helping the homeless and he hates that people have to worry about when they are going to eat their next meal.


Misha, eighth grader: Cooked food for a children’s hospital with his temple, he did this because any of us could be sick and it is not their fault, in addition, they are missing out on a lot of their childhood.



Ben, eighth grader: He volunteered at the SF Marin Food Bank to help his local food bank and it is a tradition in his family.



Amir, eighth grader: He volunteered at Glide because as a Jewish adult he wanted to help out his community.



Emmi, seventh grader: She participated in a beach cleanup because she thinks climate change has a big effect and in honor of her Bat Mitzvah she wanted to give back to the world.


Dana, seventh grader: She donated clothes to Goodwill because after becoming an adult at her Bat Mitzvah she wanted to take responsibility in helping others.



Manu, seventh grader: He volunteered at Glide, because his synagogue has a program where you get to learn about Glide and it is fun to help others.



Reed, seventh grader: He participated in a beach cleanup because he lives near a beach and it is “gross” and he is worried about the aquatic life and he loves surfing.



Henry, sixth grader: He donated to an organization that provides resources for homeless people, because they are people and we should treat everyone equally.


Senior and young holding hands


Hershel, sixth grader: He would like to volunteer for the elderly because he cares about them and doesn’t want them to be lonely.




Marlowe, sixth grader: She will participate in a beach cleanup, because she likes and cares about the animals in the ocean. She feels bad that they are dying even though it is not their fault, but ours as humans. 



Talia, sixth grader: She donated her old shoes to goodwill because she wanted to give to people in need.

Hands with love

Comment on this post to share with us
if you did or will do a Tzedek project for your Bar or Bat mitzvah?

What is Your Favorite NPO & Why?

By Alex & Vivi

Crystal Brown, Teacher: My favorite non-profit organization is Habitat for Humanity because I like how it brings people together to help build affordable housing.


Mairin Weiner, Parent: My favorite non-profit organization is International OCD Foundation because they are doing so much to help educate people about anxiety and OCD and how getting the right treatment can make people feel so much better.


Polly Sapakie, Administrator: My favorite non-profit organization is Moms Demand Action because I think kids having to go to school worrying about shootings and lockdowns is shameful.


PP logo-White+Pink-NoTagline_0Jessica Wallack-Cohen, Parent: My favorite non-profit organization is Planned Parenthood because they fight for reproductive rights and I think that’s very important.


Joshua, 8th grader: My favorite non-profit organization is Greenpeace because I think climate change is a very important topic.



Lily G, 8th grader: SF LGBT Center because they do a lot of work for the large community of SF. And even though we think SF is really accepting, it can still be hard for LGBT people in SF and SF LGBT helps them be accepted in society.


Dr. Bloom, Teacher: Cancer Commons because they help people find out what experimental programs are out there during a time when they really need support.

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Mrs. Stine, Teacher: My favorite non-profit organization is Planned Parenthood because of the incredible amount of resources that can be life-changing for men and women and the education aspect, too.

80044db082995bcc6fd07ac0cb3606ba0de723adCoach Pat, Teacher: My favorite non-profit organization is the Bay Area Women’s and Children’s Center because I used to work there and got to see up close the amazing things they do for the less fortunate people in San Francisco’s community.


Luka, 8th grader: My favorite non-profit organization is GreenPeace because they do stuff for the environment and that’s important right now.



Mrs. Witherington, Teacher: My favorite non-profit organization is Girls Leading Girls because I love the way they empower girls by inspiring leadership and building confidence all through soccer. I also love how they use funds from San Francisco to provide free soccer camps to less fortunate girls in Nicaragua.


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Sophia, 8th grader: My favorite nonprofit is Nurturing Minds because I think the work they do is really inspirational. They give free education to girls in Tanzania at the Sega Girls’ School; and it’s amazing the impact they have on these girls’ lives which leads to them impacting other peoples as well.


Cam Yuen-Shore, Administrator: My favorite nonprofit is Aim High. They provide free summer programs for middle schoolers in SF. It is a great place for kids and young adults interested in teaching. I went through as a student and worked there for 12 summers. It’s an amazing program!

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Mrs. Bitton, Teacher: My favorite nonprofit is probably Planned Parenthood because I really love the work they do. For many people, Planned Parenthood is their primary source of care and they still manage to do an all-around amazing job.

722_la-casa_rbeAva, 8th grader: My favorite nonprofit is  La Casa De Las Madres because they help deal with domestic violence which is a really important subject to know about. I really admire the way they help survivors of domestic violence. I think they are a great organization.


Reese, 8th grader: My favorite nonprofit has to be Muttville because I am a firm animal supporter and lover and they help rescue and love these elderly dogs who need a home.

Bonnie Tang, Parent: My favorite nonprofit is Khan Academy because it totally revolutionized the way we learn and it gives the underprivileged kids a lot of support because they don’t have to pay for learning; they make education accessible for everyone.

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Scott Nealey, Parent: My favorite nonprofit is Planned Parenthood because it prevents unwanted children. It’s not only about abortion, but it also gives a lot of reproductive health services to those who cant afford it and empowers women by giving them the choice of their pregnancies.


Alec Lakowsky, Parent:My favorite nonprofit is Make-A-Wish because I like the way it gives children with chronic illness opportunities to experience joy beyond comparison.

Hands with love


Comment on this post to share with us
your favorite non-profit and why.

Urban Adamah

Urban Adamah

By Reed & Lev

On February 3rd Maddy Winard, Youth and Family Programs Director of Urban Adamah came to our class. Urban Adamah is an NPO that seeks to build a more loving, just, and sustainable world. They ground and connect people to themselves, to others, and to the natural world. They do this by providing farm-based, community-building experiences that integrate Jewish tradition, mindfulness, sustainable agriculture, and social action. Urban Adamah was founded by Adam Berman in Connecticut in the year 2000. One of the first things he did was start something called the Adamah Fellowship, a Jewish leadership program that was farm-based. In 2010 Adam found the financial support to fund a farm in Berkley and to create the organization that is Urban Adamah. Urban Adamah’s core values are tzedek, chesed, and ahava (justice, kindness, and love).

Urban Adamah literally translates to “city earth”, at Urban Adamah you can expect to find tons of volunteers. They host summer camps, workshops and programming to help connect its participants to mother earth through a Jewish lense. Urban Adamah donates 90 percent of what they grow in their weekly free farm stand. The rest of the food grown that week (10 percent) is used for their educational programs including summer camps, workshops, and to support their fellows and full time employees. Urban Adamah does not raise animals to eat, but they do have animals such as goats and chickens for their milk and eggs. They employ four farmers because the plants don’t know that Urban Adamah is an NPO and that they should grow themselves. Staff members and volunteers will sing Shabbat blessings to the plants each week. We can join Urban Adamah’s CIT leadership program; it is for rising 7th-9th graders. To find out more information and apply online click here.


Tenderloin Walking Tour

By Rachel & Elisheva

Going on the Tenderloin walking tour was an eye-opening and amazing experience for our grade. Even though some of us had gone to the Tenderloin before or volunteered at Glide, this particular two-day experience seemed more meaningful and impactful than other times. We got to walk the streets of the Tenderloin with someone who used to be homeless and lived on those streets, a wonderful and amazing woman named Pam. Pam left her husband who had been abusing her for 15 years, deciding that she would rather be homeless than to continue to live in that situation. Her story was very inspiring and instantly forged a connection and understanding between our grade and her. Most tour guides are blank-faced and emotionless, but Pam was full of life and ready to share her story with us and answer any questions we may have had.

As we walked along the streets, we tried to put ourselves in the situations of the people we walked past on the street. We thought about how hard it would be to have to struggle to get food and warmth and clothing every day, and found ourselves reminded over and over how lucky we are to be able to have what we do. We all have food every day, a place to sleep, and clean clothes to wear. Things that to us seem like basic things, but to a large number of people in our world and especially in our city are not. On the tour, we stopped by several other non-profits in the Tenderloin other than Glide. We stopped briefly at St. Anthony’s and talked about the amazing work that they do, as well as one of the most helpful resources to homeless people in that area, their tech lab. When asked what the most helpful resource Pam had while homeless was, she said that it was the St. Anthony’s tech lab. She said it was a place where she could go and use new, up to date technology that could help her with a wide variety of things. We also stopped by the Gubbio Project. The Gubbio Project partners with churches that are open during the week. During the day, people experiencing homelessness can go into the churches and sleep in the pews. The churches are heated and a safe place to sleep in an area where those things are hard to come by. This also really struck us as we couldn’t really imagine not knowing if you were safe when you went to sleep, or wondering if you would wake up with all of your things stolen. Overall, the tour really made us all more aware of both how lucky we are to have what we do and how because of the privilege we all have it is our duty to help others who don’t have as much as we do. And, that not only is it our duty as Jews and as people on this earth, but that it is an amazing privilege to be able to help others.

The tour touched many people in our grade, one of them being Lola. After going on the Tenderloin Walking Tour Lola felt enlightened and changed, she had a new way of looking at people. Instead of looking at the people as victims of homelessness she now looks at them as survivors. When Lola was on the Tenderloin Walking Tour she felt that everybody really cared about each other and they helped each other, it was also very interesting to see how they used and shared their resources. On the tour, she saw and met lots of people but one really stood out. There was a man who came up to the 7th-grade group on the Tenderloin Walking Tour that day and talked to them. He said that they shouldn’t profile people who are experiencing homelessness or any people for that matter because a lot of the people experiencing homelessness they were seeing have college degrees and were highly educated, but something happened in their life that led them to be homeless. He also said that he was kind of against the tours because we got to go to the Tenderloin and walk around with no consequences but if the kids from the Tenderloin came to our neighborhood there might be consequences for them. He felt better knowing that our focus was the different NPOs that exist in the Tenderloin and how we would have the opportunity to choose and advocate for an NPO through our grade-level project. It was very inspirational for Lola to hear people’s stories and opinions. Another thing that stuck out to her was that a lot of the people experiencing homelessness had or were doing drugs and when one of them would see the 7th graders coming they would yell out that kids were coming and they would all try and hide their drugs. This felt very respectful to Lola. Lola went on the Tenderloin Walking Tour the first day and she volunteered at Glide on the second day. Having the experience of being on the Tenderloin Walking Tour the first day made her feel more comfortable with the people at Glide the next day.


By Lola & Emmi

On Thursday, January 30, the 7th grade left campus for a day of serving food at Glide and touring the Tenderloin. On arrival, we were greeted by Rabbi Lezak, who shared some wise words with us. One thing he mentioned was to never make assumptions about anyone, especially people experiencing homelessness. He incorporated other points of view into his ideas and overall was very fun-loving and energetic. He shared his idea of Jerusalem in heaven and Jerusalem on earth and how one day Jerusalem in heaven will be as magnificent as Jerusalem on earth. Then we thought about what San Francisco in heaven would look like compared to San Francisco on earth.

After our discussion with Rabbi Lezak, we split into two groups; one departed from Glide and embarked on a journey through the Tenderloin and the other served lunch at Glide. The group that stayed at Glide split into two other groups, the majority of them went to the main dining room, and a select few went to the coffee house. The only requirement to get a meal at Glide ks to stand in line and receive a ticket. You could stand in line as many times as you wanted, but one ticket was one serving. We noticed people taking food to go by using plastic bags and other containers such as paper bags, glass containers, and disposable cups. Each of us had different tasks. Some of us scooped hot food such as meat and vegetables, others put fruit on the tray, and others added a source of carbs, like bread or a biscuit. For each meal, there was a vegetarian option. This shows that Glide was thinking about the community and how their food restrictions might serve as an obstacle that prevents others from receiving the care they need at Glide. A lot of the employees used to experience homelessness themselves. Here are two examples of stories we heard that were meaningful to us.

Del’s Story: Del is considered the unofficial mayor of the Tenderloin. He has helped start four NPOs (the Tenderloin Walking Tour, Code Tenderloin, Swords to Plowshares & the Gubbio Project) after living on the street for 18 years. Del acquired many skills that most of us lack before getting housing. He taught us to never profile people experiencing homelessness because we have no idea what they’ve been through. Many of the people experiencing homelessness are extremely smart and ambitious, some of them have college degrees and doctorates. This type of empathy really makes people experiencing homelessness feel heard and respected, which is something they don’t get to experience a lot.

Pam’s story: Pam is an employee of the Tenderloin Walking Tour who told us her upsetting story. Pam’s husband was abusive towards Pam and after around 15 years of being abused, she decided that she would rather live on the streets than stay with her husband. Pam experienced homelessness for 1 year before she found her path and her life became steady enough for her to rent an apartment and keep a job. Now, her story is so sad but the end made us feel a bit better for her :). Because Pam and her husband never formally divorced, when he passed away she got all his money. I guess karma really is real!

Overall our experience at Glide was amazing. It let us see the world through a different perspective and changed some of our points of view involving the homeless community. We can walk away from this experience knowing we made 537 people’s days a little brighter.

From top left: Picture in front of the Glide sign, Coffee House volunteers, Main Dining Room volunteers, Meeting with Rabbi Lezak, Meeting with Del & Pam

Project Homeless Connect

Project Homeless Connect

By AJ & Wyatt

Project Homeless Connect is a non-profit organization that helps people experiencing homelessness to be able to become self-sufficient. The organization was presented to the seventh-grade class at The Brandeis School of San Francisco by Phylicia Hisel on Tuesday, January 27th, 2020.

Homeless Connect has many goals, but here is the main one: “To remove barriers and create immediate connections based on a participant’s established pathway toward long term self-sufficiency.” The first half of this quote is describing what needs to be done to no longer be homeless, to remove what is stopping you and create connections. The second half of this quote is the goal, long term self-sufficiency. This quote means a lot because, if followed, it can guide someone who is homeless to have a house by generalizing what one needs to do to become self-sufficient; so the quote’s directions can be changed according to each person’s different situation.

Project Homeless Connect (PHC) meets their goals by helping people who are experiencing homeless be able to find resources they need like food, shelter, doctors and much more. Project Homeless Connect can direct people to what they need through a van that travels around the city and is run by coordinators. Another way PHC can help people is during their Community Day of Service (which occurs four times a year). The PHC Community Day of Service is a single-day event where people can go to one place (the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium) to access over 100 services for free. This event follows the main goal of the project because hunger, health, and safety are each important to living a life and could pose as a barrier if they are not received.

Project Homeless Connect understands that people experiencing homelessness are still people. This makes the right terminology important. For example, you might say “my grandfather who has cancer” instead of “my cancerous grandfather.” It is the same for homelessness; you should say “my uncle who is experiencing homelessness” instead of “my homeless uncle.”

In order to volunteer at Project Homeless Connect, a person must be over the age of 18. So, us seventh-graders cannot volunteer yet. But, donations of money and items are a great help because even if you can not volunteer, Project Homeless Connect can still give out your donations. If someone were to want to donate to Project Homeless Connect, the NPO prefers smaller items to donate because they don’t have a large amount of space to hold it in.

This was a very interesting NPO and a very important one, it was very fun taking notes on this and getting to know more about them. I do have some questions about Project Homeless Connect, so I can get to better understand their non-profit. My first question is, after hearing about the non-profit, I heard that people experiencing homelessness, are able to just come to you and get help, how can they do that? Or what if they can’t or are prevented from reaching you, is there a way you can help them? My second question is, though this is specific if someone is clearly under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or not following Project Homeless Connect’s values, and you refuse them services, will you still try to get in contact with them?