A Tribute to My Dad

This post is written by Jill Bass, Chief Educational Officer at Mikva Challenge. 

IMG_2660When I first met Ab Mikva, I was struck by how much he reminded me of my dad. He was similar in age and build, an older Jewish man of eastern European ancestry with a joking nature and a passion for justice. They both are devoted family men and advocate for the underdog. Every time I had the privilege of seeing Ab, it felt like home.

Like Ab, my dad cherishes his family. My dad specifically took jobs that did not require him to work long hours, so that he could make the 5:15 train to be home to have family dinner with us every night. He would make time to take long walks, just me and him, and talk about whatever it is that 8 years old care about.

While my dad never held political office, he has no shortage of opinions on politics. Growing up, the newspaper was ever present in our house as was my dad venting aloud about something he was reading (often frustration with his beloved Mets). Nowadays there are more angry tirades against corruption and a lack of ethics in government. So, clearly I have inherited that trait from him.

Mikva Challenge is rooted on the foundation of a belief in the power of Youth Voice. Youth Voice means valuing the ideas and opinions of young people. It means not condescending to them because of their age. My dad has practiced this belief his whole life. He has never much been interested in babies or playing games – he engages with kids (not matter how old) as mini-adults. No topic is inappropriate (and no joke is too dirty).   He knows that young people can make a difference in the world and he wants to talk to them about what that could be.

There is a concept in Judaism known as Tikkun Olam – acts of goodness to “repair the world.” My dad taught me this concept and it guides me. We inherit a world not of our making, but it is our responsibility to make it a little better for the next generation. This belief has led me to work in the field of education, believing in the power of knowledge to transform individuals and society. At Mikva Challenge we create opportunities for youth to find their voice and repair the world. In the spirit of Tikkun Olam this Father’s Day I am supporting this much needed work to repair the world with a contribution to Mikva Challenge in honor of my dad, Gene Bass, who got me started on this journey.