Milwaukee, June 19, 2017 – Tikkun Ha-Ir of Milwaukee has been selected to cohort ten of the UpStart Accelerator = the Jewish community’s leading engine behind the success of innovative, early-stage organizations. Selected from the Accelerator’s largest applicant pool ever (92 from across the world), Tikkun Ha-Ir will join a cohort of eight other organizations that are opening up new access points to Jewish life.

Since 2006, the UpStart Accelerator has served as a launch pad for 38 Jewish organizations, providing them with the training, network, and funding needed to transform vision and passion into game-changing Jewish social ventures. Current organizations and alumni include Moishe House, Orot: Center for New Jewish Learning, 30 Years After, Jewish Kids Groups, and Urban Adamah.

“We are deeply humbled and so grateful for the opportunity to examine, develop, and expand the impact that Tikkun Ha-Ir will have both within the Jewish community of Milwaukee and toward the greater Milwaukee area,” says Tikkun Ha-Ir Executive Director Sami Stein Avner. “As a developing organization with big plans, this support will deepen Tikkun Ha-Ir’s opportunities to build community through study and action.”


Below is the full list of this year’s cohort, including Tikkun Ha-Ir, which will join the thirty-eight organizations and alum already in the UpStart Accelerator network:


  • Eshel (New York) – Creates community and acceptance for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Jews and their families in Orthodox communities.
  • JQ International (Los Angeles) – Builds and strengthens a community that nurtures a healthy fusion of LGBTQ and Jewish identities.
  • Makom Community (Philadelphia) – Creates family-centered Jewish experiences where parents are empowered to build a Jewish life that is personally meaningful for their family.
  • No Shame on U (Chicago) Works to eliminate the stigma associated with mental health conditions in the Jewish community.
  • Olive Tree Arts Network (Chicago) – Uses creative expression to promote understanding, cooperation and peace in our multi-faith society.
  • The Open Temple (Los Angeles) – Inspires individuals and families towards a life of Jewish curiosity, creativity, and critical thought.
  • Or HaLev: Center for Jewish Spirituality and Meditation (Israel) – Teaches Torat Chayyim, a Torah of insight into everyday life and the practice of skillful living.
  • Pico Union Project (Los Angeles) – Brings diverse cultures together through song, story, art, food and prayer.
  • Tikkun Ha-Ir (Milwaukee) – Encourages the Jewish community to build a more just Milwaukee through study, action, and civic engagement.

“This is an exciting time for Jewish innovators. We’re seeing an unprecedented demand for – and investment in – organizations bringing something new and fresh to Jewish life,” says Aaron Katler, CEO of UpStart. “This Accelerator cohort represents some of our community’s most forward-thinking and creative organizations. We look forward to partnering with them to accelerate their growth and enabling them to reach their community-changing potential.”

More information can be found at http://upstartlab.org/cohort-10/ .


About Tikkun Ha-Ir:

Tikkun Ha-Ir, Hebrew for “Repairing the City,” is built on the Jewish tradition of TIKKUN OLAM – repairing the world. Established in 2003, Tikkun Ha-Ir is made up of diverse Jewish congregations and organizations in the Milwaukee area working together to confront and help solve problems facing impoverished families. The goal of THI is to help build a more just and supportive community in Milwaukee through study and action. www.thi-milwaukee.org


About UpStart:

UpStart partners with innovators to redesign the experience and expression of Jewish life. UpStart recently announced a merger with Joshua Venture Group, Bikkurim, and the U.S. programs of PresenTense, creating a one stop resource for nurturing Jewish innovation nationwide. Since its inception, UpStart and its merging partners have fueled the impact of over 1,300 organizations and trained nearly 3,000 of the Jewish community’s most inspiring leaders. UpStart now hosts programs in 13 communities across the country, supporting entrepreneurs and communal leaders looking to generate and nurture community-changing ideas.  www.upstartlab.org

The Glean Machine is Back! May 21-25

“Let her glean even among the shelters and put her not to shame…” Ruth 2:15

Inspired by the book of Ruth which is read during the harvest festival of Shavuot, THI asks our community to glean from your own homes to restock the necessities of local shelters and social service agencies. A clearly marked van will be at the following drop-off locations between May 21-25 Please see  the complete wishlist below:

Dates and Times:

  Drop off      Location Drop off     Timing
Sunday 5/21 Congregation Emau-El B’ne Jeshurun 9:30-11:30am
Monday 5/22 Congregation Beth Israel Ner Tamid 12-2pm
Hillel Milwaukee 2-4pm
Tuesday 5/23 Congregation Shalom 4:30-6:30pm
Wednesday 5/24 Congregation Sinai 12-2pm
Thursday 5/25 Temple       Menorah 10am-1pm


Here is the Complete List of Wishlist Items:

Baby Items

  • Baby wipes
  • Assorted baby items
  • Diapers, multiple sizes

Read more The Glean Machine is Back! May 21-25

THI’s Fundraiser Event: Uniting for Change June 20th, 2017


Tikkun Ha-Ir’s Annual Fundraiser:

Uniting for Change

2017 Fundraiser Registration

Tuesday, June 20, 2017 7pm - 8:30pm Congregation Beth Israel Ner Tamid 6880 N Green Bay Rd, Milwaukee 53092
  • Come enjoy the party and honor Elana Kahn, Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation

    Contact Sami Stein Avner with questions: sami@thi-milwaukee.org or 414-501-3618

Milwaukee 53206 Film & Discussion: A study of Milwaukee’s mass incarceration Problem

Guest post by Donna Neubauer

On Sunday, February 5, 2017 ninety-one people attended the showing of Milwaukee 53206 at Congregation Sinai. The event was co-sponsored by Tikkun Ha-Ir and the Social Action Committee of Congregation Sinai.


The film, produced by MICAH made it premier at the Milwaukee Film Festival this past Spring. It   examines how decades of poverty, unemployment, and a lack of opportunity has contributed to the crisis of mass incarceration in this community, specifically in the zip code of 53206.

Mark Rice of EXPO and Idy Goodman of Cong. Sinai

After viewing the film, Mark Rice, who is active in EX-Prisoners Organizing (EXPO) spoke about re-incarceration of former prisoners for “technical violations.”  Mark further explained, “Former inmates can be sent back to prison because they borrowed money from someone, or missed a meeting with their parole officer because they couldn’t get off of work.  They don’t get a hearing, they just get put back in jail until the court gets to their case.  This could be from months to years.”


This gathering gave our North Shore community an opportunity, during Q & A the realization that this isn’t just a problem for zip code 53206, but affect the entire Milwaukee community.

Purim- Bring joy and do good!

Celebrate Purim and feed the hungry by sending Purim cards to friends and family through Tikkun Ha-Ir! Your donation will support  Surplus Harvest efforts which gather leftover fresh produce and  distributes it in a user-friendly format to Food Pantries and shelters around the city (see more info here).

The cards, designed by Cindy Cooper, are $5 per name. Please send in names by February 26th using our online sign up form. Donations can be made here

Questions? Contact Sami@thi-milwaukee.org or 414-501-3618Tikkun Ha-Ir | Repairing Milwaukee

Holiday Gits project results in 450 gifts bags!

Tikkun Ha-Ir Delivers Holiday Gifts to 450 Homeless Persons in 2016


The Jewish community gave generously in 2016 to make sure people in Milwaukee crisis shelters had holiday gifts this December! Tikkun Ha-Ir has coordinated the Holiday Gift Project for over 11 years, this year working in partnership with volunteers from synagogues, community

Reesa Gottschalk, THI Board member and Holiday Gift Project Chairperson in 2016
Reesa Gottschalk, THI Board member and Holiday Gift Project Chairperson in 2016

organizations, and individuals.


Through collections and donations, we distributed approximately 450 gift bags to adults and children in 10 shelters.  The gift bags held roughly 5 gifts for each adult and 8 for each child. Gifts included:

  • Outerwear such as hats, scarves, socks and mittens for the people most vulnerable to cold Wisconsin winds. Many of these items were hand knit by our community: special thanks to Chai Point resident Lilian Rakita and all the Knitters on a Roll!
  • Hoodies and pajamas to stay warm during the night
  • Books for babies, toddlers, new readers and older youth to feed kids’ imagination and build verbal skills. Special Thanks to Aviva Bergtrom for early-reader books
  • Toys for kids from birth to the teenage years since the holidays are a time for fun
  • Extra products for personal care, taking care of business, and expressing creativity, as well as candy, of course.


JCC Executive Director Mark Shapiro in the red suit and white beard and daughter Carlie entertain children at the Cathedral Center Friendship House

THI provided Giving Chanukiot to eight synagogues with paper candles with gift suggestions with the age and gender of the gift recipients. Congregation members took a candle, purchased the items and brought them to the synagogues’ gift collection bins. The gifts were then gathered and prepared for distribution.  A special thanks to Deborah O’Connor, Kira Berkoff, Cindy Cooper, Reenie Kavalar, Susan Ellman, and Susan Armour Sideman for efforts in making the Channukiot, sorting, and packing the gifts! We are especially appreciative of Project Chair Reesa Gottchalk’s hard work!


A very special component of the Holiday Gift Program is the Holiday Party and Santa visit at Cathedral Center.

Thank you to our Santa Shapiro and family, who delivered smiles and gifts this year to over 50 children, mothers and fathers on December 24 adding magic to the evening event.


The Jewish Community Center Chanukah Celebration provides an opportunity for Jewish children to help. This year, the youth filled festive bags with candy to make sure the holiday events had at least a spoonful of sugar. At Congregation Beth Israel Ner Tamid young people made sock cupcakes to include in children’s gift bags, and at Congregation Sinai, students help wrap toys.


We are especially grateful to Moshe Katz and ATID sock-cupckes-2016properties for donating a vacant apartment to store, sort and bag gifts for distribution. In addition, THI is grateful to Laura Emir for purchasing gift bags.  The bags kept items clean and safe while providing recipients with a good receptacle for laundry, personal use and transport for the new year. This was a truly community effort!

Hoodies (and sweatpants) for the Homeless- 8 days left!

With 8 days left of our Holiday Gifts for the Homeless Drive, we are asking our community to come together to collect and distribute gifts to families in homeless shelters or crisis programs.

This year, one of our goals is to give 200 hooded sweatshirts or sweatpants (in all sizes) to keep parents, children and youth warm during the long, cold Milwaukee winter. WE NEED YOUR HELP!

hoddies-pic There are 3 ways to participate:

  1. GO Shopping! Purchase a set of sweatshirts or sweatpants for a family –  two extra large sizes and two small sizes.
  2. Donate Money! If you donate money, Tikkun Ha-Ir will use it for a bulk purchase of sweatshirts and pants.
  3. Do a team Project!Work with friends, family or work associates to help us provide 200  hoodies or sweatpants to homeless families. Set a group goal and either collect sweatshirts or do a bulk purchase.  Tikkun Ha-Ir will pick them up and put them in one of the packages for each family.

THI & #GivingTuesday: November 29, 2016


This year, on Tuesday, November 29, 2016, Tikkun Ha-Ir is participating in #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving.
Last year, more than 45,000 organizations in 71 countries came together to celebrate #GivingTuesday. Since its founding in 2012, #GivingTuesday has inspired giving around the world, resulting in greater donations, volunteer hours, and activities that bring about real change in communities.
We invite you to join the movement and to help get out the give to the Milwaukee Community this November 29. Some ideas include:
All gifts are appreciated! Some suggestions:
  • $54 = 3 gift bags for people living in shelters at Christmas
  • $100 = 50 adult & children’s summer outfits through the Glean Machine
  • $250 = 2 weeks of fresh produce delivered to meal sites next summer and fall
  • $500 = 6 weeks of the Chop Shop which prepares fresh produce for easy usage at meal sites and food pantries
  • $1000 = 4 learning programs that create a Jewish context for our programs
  • Donate online or by mail: P.O. Box 090287, Milwaukee, WI 53209
Sort and pack holiday gift bags for those in living in homeless shelters
     DATES:   Sunday, December 11 -Friday, December 23rd
    SHIFTS will be approx 2 hours in length between 10am and 4pm
      RSVP HERE 

    CONTACT Karen Royster with any questions and for sorting & packing location:  414-426-4473 or kroyster@thi-milwaukee.org

It’s Not To Late to Donate The Following Items: 
        • Hats/scarves/gloves
        • Pajamas
        • Children’s books
        • Toys
        • Socks (men/women/children)
        • Recyclable tote bags
Learn more on www.thi-milwaukee.org or contact Karen Royster or Sami Stein Avner for drop off sites.
Thank you for your support!
James Hagen                 Sami Stein Avner
President                   Executive Director

THI’s Next Chapter Begins NOW!

Dear friend,

Shana Tovah! I’m thrilled to introduce myself as the new Executive Director for Tikkun Ha-Ir of Milwaukee and am delighted to take on this new role. In these first months, you have all taught me so much about how THI helps address the many problems our community faces. It is humbling to discover all that Judy Baruch our Founding Executive Director, and Tikkun Ha-Ir supporters have created together and I look toward our future with optimism.

As a member of the Milwaukee Jewish community in my early years, I am reminded at how warm and supportive of a community we are. It is inspiring to learn how our congregations and at large volunteers have stepped up to care for the stranger in need among us. A commitment to pursuing Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, is a vital way that we all take ownership of our Jewish identities and live out Jewish values. This passion will be the guiding principle as we work together in the years to come. Your continued investment will ensure that we continue to have resources to achieve this vision.

Tikkun Ha-Ir is a unique social justice partnership in the diverse Jewish community as well as an active member of a broad network of service organizations throughout the Milwaukee area. In this new chapter of Tikkun Ha-Ir’s work, we will focus on reaching out to Jewish families to help build a more just Milwaukee through study, action, and civic engagement. I hope to expand our capacity to strengthen and repair our city. In the upcoming year, we plan to:

  • Support those in need through our signature programs that serve the broader low-income Milwaukee community (see the attached overview of THI’s 2016 accomplishments and a flyer for the Holiday Gifts for the Homeless drive in November/December!)
  • Engage the next generation of Jewish families and young adults in addressing the needs of the people in Milwaukee who live in poverty
  • Strengthen our pluralistic Jewish space to learn together and act together around social justice issues affecting our city

We can’t help repair Milwaukee without your financial help. We ask you to donate now. Your donation will:

  • Help those families in severe crisis get warm clothes and holiday gifts for their children
  • Ensure that families in poverty have healthy produce at food banks and meal program
  • Support female prison inmates to learn culinary skills to prepare for re-entry into the workforce
  • Provide Passover foods for low-income Jewish families
  • Support learning opportunities on important issues that impact our city

As Jews we have a responsibility to step up for those who are in need, to be good neighbors and to give back in a thoughtful way. Tikkun Ha-Ir is deeply grateful to donors like you who support our efforts in repairing our city. Please consider giving generously as we begin this new chapter in our story.

Todah Rabah- Many Thanks,

Sami Stein Avner
Executive Director