FAQs for Hillel Don’t Kvetch, Organize! Course

Thank you for your interest in Don’t Kvetch, Organize!  Below are a few of our commonly asked questions.  If you’re still curious about something, please email Tali Smookler with any questions.

Q: What’s the time commitment?

A: Our Fall 2017 course will run from October 22-December 10, 2017, with a break in the middle for Thanksgiving. Total coursework will be approximately three hours/week.

Q: I’m worried about fitting this in with my other coursework and commitments. How flexible is the time commitment for the course?

A: Most of the course components happen on your own time, which makes it easier to fit into busy schedules. Each week, there will be videos with course content for participants to watch. These can be watched whenever is most convenient for you that week – in the morning, afternoon, evening, all at once, spread out over the week, whenever works! There are also weekly written reflection assignments which can also be done on your own time each week.

There will be three live online section meetings throughout the course, and these will happen at specific times throughout the seven weeks. There will be around 25 people in your section (made up of other Hillel students and professionals), and these will be led by your Course Instructor. When registration closes, we will send out a poll so you can share what times work best for you for these meetings. We will assign you a section based on your availability and will do our best to ensure that you are in a section that best fit your schedule.

We designed this course such that it is possible to fit into busy schedules by making as many components as possible on your own time.

Q: Is it only for Hillel students?

A: While there is a large cohort of New York Area Hillel Students, there will be people from across North America (including some in Canada and other countries) who are simultaneously participating. All of the NY area Hillel Students will be placed in the same virtual section meetings and have the chance to discuss your learning in the context of what is happening on your campus.

Q: Can you tell me more about the homework assignments? Is that included in the total of 3 hours of coursework weekly?

A: Yes, the 3 hours includes time spent on the homework assignments.

The assignments will be a weekly written reflection posted to your section’s discussion forum, answering a particular question and applying what what you learned that week. You will also be asked to comment on another person’s post, as the discussion forum is meant to be a space where course participants learn from one another.

Q: Can I get course credit for this?

A: We are still exploring the possibility of students who complete the course to get credit. At the moment however, Don’t Kvetch, Organize is not accredited by New York area colleges or universities. You will be presented with a Certificate of Completion which can be listed on resumes, and we are happy to provide syllabus and feedback to help you gain credit.

Q: How much does it cost?

A:  Due to the generous support of UJA-Federation, we are able to subsidize the cost of participating in in our course.  

Q: What will I learn?

A: This course is intended to help people learn effective community organizing strategies and get more involved in important social justice campaigns. It is a seven week course taught by well known and highly respected community and organization leaders. The topics that will be covered range from Jewish and biblical history to present actions that are resulting in real change.

We are excited to bring this to college Hillels because the skills and tools that the course teaches can be applied to and can support a wide variety of projects and initiatives on campus. These can be explicitly related to developing leaders and and deepening your work in your Hillel and Jewish community, or related to developing campaign strategies that can win real changes on campus. They can support your work in building relationships across lines of difference, and provide you with the tools to effectively fight for justice on campus and beyond.

Q: Do you know what time of day the class will meet?

A: Most of the time you’ll spend in the course will be on your own time–you’ll be watching a weekly set of training videos whenever is good for you. For example, you could watch one of the videos on a Monday morning, and a couple more on Tuesday evening. This allows for you to fit the course around your other school commitments. The homework assignments (posting written reflections to your section’s discussion forum, and applying the concepts you’re learning by answering a particular question we assign) would also be on your own time, as long as you complete it by the weekly due date.

There will be three set times during the course where there will be an online meeting.  We will be polling all of our course participants to find out several options for times they’re free and then match you up with a Course Instructor who is a fit for your availability. So we would make sure in advance to find times that would work for a number of folks.

Q: What other support will JOIN be providing?

A: Students who complete the course are eligible for one 30 minute coaching session with JOIN’s skilled trainers and organizers. The Hillel Professional staff are able to receive up to three hours of coaching post- course completion.

Q: Have other college students taken the course? What have they said about it?

A: While this is the first time we’re running a cohort specifically geared for undergraduates, a handful of your peers have taken the class in the past. Here’s what they have to say: 

“Taking the Don’t Kvetch, Organize! course was a really unique opportunity for me as an undergraduate student to learn the organizing frameworks, tools and strategies needed to strengthen and inform my social justice work on campus and beyond. I was grateful to be learning the material through a Jewish lens, from experienced organizers I looked up to, and to have time and space to discuss and process the learning with a community of others. During the course, I began a project co-organizing a panel discussion with local community organizers on the intersections of faith and social justice work. This event was was an exciting opportunity to build relationships and have conversations across faith and activist communities on campus using many of the skills I gained from the course.” 

~Nadav David (participated in the course as a senior at Northeastern University)

“I encouraged several students who were leaders of our Hillel Initiative on Racial Awareness and Justice (HIRAJ) to enroll in JOIN’s online course, Don’t Kvetch, Organize! in order to strengthen and support their leadership and because of how central training through JOIN was to my own formation as a leader while in rabbinical school. The course sharpened students’ understanding of power and of how relationships and personal narratives are the engines of successful activism.  I’m grateful that this opportunity to connect with teachers and comrades in the field was available to them and highly recommend the course to students and professionals eager to gain skills, tools, and frameworks for operating more strategically and relationally on campus and beyond.”

~​Rabbi Michelle T. Dardashti (Associate Chaplain of the University for the Jewish Community / Rabbi, Brown RISD Hillel)

I took Don’t Kvetch, Organize!  during the fall of my fourth year in college with a group of friends. We were all organizing together through an initiative we had started on our campus, called the Hillel Initiative for Racial Awareness and Justice. Our rabbi supported us in taking the course so that we could develop a stronger shared foundation in organizing fundamentals. Enrolling in the course together was both an enjoyable and helpful experience. It was fun to be in a virtual section—having different experiences and conversations with people around the country while we were all sitting in the same room—and to check in and share learnings throughout the course.

Probably the most helpful aspect of the course at that time was the focus on relational conversations (or “one-on-ones”). As the leadership team of a newly formed initiative, we already knew that having individual conversations was important; the information the course provided on how to conduct 1:1s and their role in broader organizing strategy provided an important foundation that made us both more eager and more effective in our work.

Personally, this course was an important first step in my relationship with JOIN as an organization and continuation of my Jewish justice work in general. I found it incredibly helpful to be exposed to so many people doing and teaching organizing; the introductory videos they recorded have continued to be a resource to me since I took the class. My experience with Don’t Kvetch, Organize!  inspired me to apply to the JOIN Organizing Fellowship, which I completed last month.”

~Rachel Leiken (particiapted in the course as a senior at Brown University)

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Still have questions?  Email Tali Smookler for more information.

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