Siegel Distributes Books and Ideas

Jewish Social Activist Challenges Students to 'Repair the World'

Last week, Harvard students spent hundreds of dollars on books; last night, more than fifty students received books for free.

The distribution of books was Harvard's introduction to Danny Siegel, a poet, author, scholar, social activist and Harvard-Radcliffe Hillel guest for the weekend.

In his presentation, which lasted an hour and a half, Siegel first passed out books, then ideas, about specific ways that students could contribute to the Harvard communities.

Throughout his talk, Siegel stressed the Jewish ideas of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, and tzedakah, charity.

"No matter what you're doing, no matter who you are, there is no secret [to performing tzedakah], he said. "Let's do it."

"I think the Harvard population could, in a two week period, convince every local restaurant to donate its leftovers to Rosie's [a local soup kitchen]," Siegel said after the speech.

During the talk, Siegel suggested other ways to work in the community, including planting vegetables in the Yard, collecting unsold sneakers and clothing from stores and encouraging the engineering department to focus on local real-life problems.

"[Siegel] is a funnel for information passing stories and bringing ideas from one community to the next," said Ethan M. Tucker '97, chair of Harvard-Radcliffe Hillel.

Tucker said Hillel invited Siegel because of his unique ability to help people translate their grand visions of changing the world into everyday opportunities.

"Danny Siegel once told me that a good leader is someone whom you look at and say 'Wow, I wish I could do that. But a great leader is someone whom you look at and say. 'I can do that," Tucker said in his introduction of Siegel "Danny Siegel is a great leader."

Siegel challenged students to take action. During the speech. Jessica Hammer '99 volunteered to organize a shipment of clothing to Bosnia.

"I wish every person at Harvard could have been here tonight. We would have 6,600 mitzvah projects," said Ariela M. Migdal '96. Mitzvah is the Hebrew word for good deed.

Today, Siegel will meet with representatives from the United Ministry and Phillips Brooks House, to share ideas. On Saturday, from 12 to 2, he will lead an open brainstorming session at Hillel