Powerful Stories of Change-Makers

On October 20th, JOIN hosted “Celebrating Change-Makers,” an event in NYC featuring incredible JOIN leaders who have utilized what they learned from JOIN training to make change in their communities.  We had 55 people join us to celebrate Sukkot and listen to powerful stories from Rabbi Adam Baldachin, Rabbi Stephanie Kolin, and David Schwartz about what it takes to make change.

Karla Van Praag, JOIN’s Executive Director, began the evening sharing that “JOIN teaches the skills of organizing and builds supportive communities that shelter us as the sukkah does.  From the sukkah, we can still feel the danger of outside, but, we can find skills and the courage to keep going on our journey to change the world.”

She continued, “JOIN for Justice does two things to gird people for that journey to change the world – first, we teach organizing skills to leaders. Most simply, organizing brings people together who identify as a community, together name a common goal, and then act collectively to achieve it. That is how change happens. The second thing JOIN does is help these leaders muster the courage to take the risks inherent in changing the status quo. The world as it is is too vast for anyone to successfully take on alone – you need mentors and a community to support you.”

Below are the three inspiring stories from leaders about their experiences utilizing the skills of community organizing to create change in their communities.

Rabbi Adam Baldachin: Rabbi Adam Baldachin is the rabbi at Shaarei Tikvah in Scarsdale, NY. He was previously the rabbi of Montebello Jewish Center in Rockland County, NY. He has been a leader in the fight for education justice in East Ramapo.


David Schwartz: David Schwartz is the Co-Founder and Campaign Director of Real Food Challenge, a national student movement to create a more healthy, just and sustainable food system. David was named one of Forbes Magazine’s “30 under 30” for Social Entrepreneurship in 2013.

Rabbi Stephanie Kolin: Rabbi Stephanie Kolin is the Associate Rabbi of Central Synagogue in New York City. Previously, she served as the Co-Director of the Union for Reform Judaism‘s Just Congregations and was founding lead organizer for Reform California.

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