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What Tikkun Olam Means to Me: Diller Teen Awards Recipients Share Their Thoughts [2019]

Many of the Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards recipients feel a deep connection and calling to tikkun olam. They are dedicated to repairing the world and through their projects they have each discovered and enriched their personal definitions of tikkun olam. We asked the 2019 recipients what tikkun olam means to them and were blown away by their answers. It’s inspiring to hear all their different and beautiful interpretations. Read on to hear what tikkun olam means to our 2019 Awardees.

Click on each teen’s name to find out more about their projects.

What Tikkun Olam Means to Me

“To me, tikkun olam means all kinds of things, from the huge things like founding an organization, to the little things like picking up trash in public areas. If everyone leaves the world just a little bit better than they found it, I think the world could finally be healed.”

~Ethan Asher


“Service above self.”

~Grace Freeman


“To me, tikkun olam means leveling the playing field. I have always believed that every person deserves the same opportunities and resources, so we all have a fair chance of accomplishing our dreams and pursuing our passions. This is why I have always advocated for challenging our society’s biases and prejudices, in order to create a world in which we can voice our opinions without fear of judgment.”

~Elyse Forman


“Tikkun olam is all encompassing: from the smallest acts of kindness to the grandest gestures, it is working to improve the world in any way possible.”

~Beatriz De Oliveira


“To me, tikkun olam means identifying tangible problems that surround you, your community, and the world around you, to fully-flip the status quo and bring substantial, systemic, and sustainable improvement for all people affected.”

~Malcolm Asher


“Repairing the world for no other reason than it is the right thing to do.”

~John Finkelman


“Tikkun olam means fixing the world. It’s an important Jewish value, and always makes me think back to pirkei avot: It is not your job to complete the task, but you are not free to desist from it either. It is our responsibility as inhabitants of this world to do all we can to make it a better place, not just for our generation, but for generations to come.”

~Lucy Beckett


“When you Google “tikkun olam,” you will see many pictures of a band aid placed on the earth. When you place a band aid on a cut, the band aid is not fixing the cut, the cells in your body are. They are rushing to the site of the wound to fix the problem in the most efficient and effective way possible. Tikkun olam is not represented by a band aid, simply covering the problem; rather it is represented by the repair cells working together to repair the problem “area” effectively and permanently.”

~Jessica Goldberg


“If it’s broken, it’s mine to fix.”

~Adam Hoffman


“Tikkun olam is the adaptation and application of talent, creativity, and privilege towards improvement of the foundational pillars and support systems upon which our communities ought to be able to rely.”

~Solomon Olshin


“Tikkun olam means filling voids. The world is full of voids. Void of sufficient services, void of meaningful relationships, void of vulnerability and empathy. Through my tikkun olam efforts, I channel my Jewish upbringing in filling the voids I see in my community, my culture, and my world. In doing so, I help to repair the world.”

~Katelyn McInerney


“I believe the term “tikkun olam” represents a variety of thoughts, actions, and experiences that together can be combined to create the world we want to live in.”

~Ethan Hirschberg


“To me, tikkun olam is the pursuit of blissful sacrifice and restorative goodwill. Tikkun olam is not only the act of achieving a just outcome, it’s the pattern of deeds that make the outcome possible.”

~Britt Masback


“Tikkun olam means fighting for what’s right. It means working collaboratively to identify problems within our world, and know deep inside there are always going to be problems to fix. But it’s about working together to fix them.”

~Arielle Geismar


“Tikkun olam is an understanding that we all have a shared responsibility to leave this world a better place than we found it.”

~Casey Sherman


Tikkun olam is a Jewish tradition, a set of actions, and a way of experiencing each of our unique places in the world. Everyone is capable of repairing the world, each in a way that expresses individual resources and abilities. These teens make it clear that tikkun olam encompasses everything from the smallest to the grandest actions that bring people better opportunities and improve the world. Practice the spirit of tikkun olam by reflecting on these teens’ interpretations as you develop your own. Tikkun olam has many meanings yet it all comes back to one idea: repairing the world.


Find Out More About The Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards

The Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards are for Jewish teens age 13-19 who have a key leadership role at an organization or program centered around repairing the world. Every year since 2007, the Helen Diller Family Foundation has awarded $36,000 each to up to 15 Jewish teens who are making the world a better place. Check out our past recipients and their inspiring work here.