Tisha B'Av has a reputation as the "saddest" day of the Jewish year. Commemorating the destruction of the Holy Temples in Jerusalem, as well as other tragedies, this holiday is one of mourning and remembrance.
 
In addition to meditating on the theme of destruction, this year we are flipping the script. While the Ninth of Av is usually about what we have lost, we also chose to focus on those who are building something new in the Jewish community. Here, we included a mere snapshot of dedicated individuals and their inspired projects underway in Jewish communities across the world. We chose nine for the occasion:
 

Rebecca Bardach, Hand in Hand

As Director of Resource Development and Strategy, Rebecca uses her years of experience in international development and conflict management to ensure that Hand in Hand, a network of integrated, bilingual Jewish-Arab schools, can fulfill its mission to help establish an inclusive society in Israel. She is also a Schusterman Fellow. 

Two Mensch volunteers smiling at an event

Gina Flash, Mensch

Gina Flash is the Founder and Executive Director of Mensch, a Jewish organization committed to co-creating positive social change in South Africa. Gina is driving the organizational strategy, mobilizing the Jewish community for social action through education and volunteering and supporting a network of Jewish change agents. She is an ROI Community member and a Schusterman Fellow. 

Sarah Waxman, At The Well

As Founder of At The Well, Sarah Waxman is dedicated to bringing women together at the intersection of wellness and Jewish spirituality. The ROI Community member and REALITY participant has a deep understanding of the power of supportive community, and is working to create that for others. BONUS: Explore At The Well's oh-so-timely modern Tisha B'Av guide

A group of Stand Up speakers smiling

Gary Samowtiz, Stand Up

In his role as CEO of Stand Up, ROI Community member and Schusterman Fellow Gary Samowitz works to achieve social change in Australia in the areas of refugees, indigenous partnerships, and education. Stand Up is building and deploying an increasing number of volunteers and programs, inspired by Jewish values, to make Australia a better place. 

Tomer Dror, Beliba Choma

Beliba Choma is working on two of the most important issues in Israel today: the divide between the ultra-orthodox and secular parts of society, and the difficulty Haredi people face trying to integrate into the workforce. As a founding partner, ROI Community member Tomer Dror's work is essential to solving these problems and connecting these different communities. 

Tyler Gregory, A Wider Bridge

Tyler Gregory is the Deputy Director of A Wider Bridge and a Schusterman Fellow. Tyler is working to build a movement of allies among the LGBTQ communities in Israel and the United States. He does this by providing both Israeli and American LGBTQ communities with opportunities for engagement and advocacy. This includes LGBTQ missions to Israel, organized giving to other LGBTQ organizations and professional development opportunities for LGBTQ Jewish professionals.

Lior Lapid, Ore to Excellence

As Founder and Executive Director of Ore to Excellence, ROI Community member and Schusterman Fellow, Lior Lapid has a lot on his plate. His organization creates educational programs that ensure children from Israel's peripheral areas have the tools and opportunities to succeed. He is committed to changing the lives of children, and ensuring a culture of excellence and volunteerism. 

Arielle Pearlman, Challah for Hunger

When Arielle Pearlman first joined Challah for Hunger at Colgate University, she saw it as a way to engage with Judaism and meet upperclassmen. Soon, she was fully dedicated to Challah for Hunger's mission to fight local and global hunger, serving on the planning team for the Campus Hunger Project. Now an intern for Challah for Hunger, she is helping expand the Campus Hunger Project, empowering students across the country to fight hunger on their campuses. 

Student Benjamin Zirman speaking at a podium

Benjamin Zirmin, TAMID

This summer, Benjamin Zirmin has been participating in the TAMID summer internship program in Israel, helping RSPCT Basketball pitch their data analytics services to NBA teams. Benjamin is exercising more than just his mind; he is also giving of himself. Through the Gift of Life Bone Marrow registry, Benjamin was matched to a woman with Leukemia in Arlington, VA. As a Gift of Life ambassador at Yeshiva University, Benjamin knew what a difference his donation could make and recently flew to Washington, D.C. to help save his recipient's life. Learn more about the Gift of Life registry here.

Tisha B'Av begins July 31 at sundown, and lasts until August 1 at sundown. For more information about the holiday and additional resources, see this guide from MyJewishLearning