In the News
Building ovens in Nandaime

Students travel to Nicaragua as part of an Alternative Spring Break program
By Heidi Bercovici, Contributor, March 8th, 2011

This past spring break, I was part of a group of 11 students from Concordia University and McGill University who participated in an Alternatiave Spring brseak program to Nandaime, Nicaragua. Through Hillel Montreal and American Jewish World Service, we worked with Nochari, a non-profit organization that supports over 500 families in the region by promoting economic development, gender and generational equity with an agro-ecological approach. Nochari does this by fostering small family farming enterprises and grassroots group of women, men and youth in the country. As a result, quality of life is improved by increasing production for home consumption and marketing, thus impacting the municipal, provincial and national development. We worked alongside the members of the rural community of Pedro Joaquin Chamorro. The community was named in honour of the editor of La Prensa, a daily newspaper, who was assassinated. We helped them build outdoor ovens which, when completed, allowed the families to make bread for their own consumption as well as to sell. The extra money earned is then reinvested into the purchase of food, children’s education, transportation and home repairs.

This man and woman are the oldest members of one of the families for whom we built an oven. Their physical strength and hard work amazed us.

Every Saturday, members from a local cooperative set up tables at a market where they sell a variety of items. Each family keeps the money they have earned. Once the ovens are completed, bread will be added to the table’s contents.

This is what a completed oven looks like. The family uses it to bake bread which they will sell for extra income to help cover the costs of better nutrition, the children’s education, transportation and house repairs.

While working alongside members of the community, we learned how to make the foundation and the cement for the oven.

Our group with the families in the community of Pedro Joaquin Chamorro.

Article written by Heidi Bercovici, Concordia Student and participant on Hillel’s Alternative Spring Break Trip to Nicaragua with American Jewish World Services.


Rabbi Avraham (Avi) Weiss is the founder and president of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, the Modern and Open Orthodox Rabbinical School in New York, which has now placed almost seventy rabbis in synagogues, on campuses, in day schools and in national camping positions.  He is also the senior Rabbi of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, a congregation of 850 families.  Most recently, he founded Yeshivat Mahara”t, a Modern and Open Orthodox school training women to become spiritual leaders. 
Rabbi Weiss was named one of the fifty most influential rabbis in America by Newsweek magazine the past four consecutive years.  He is the author of Spiritual Activism: A Jewish Guide to Leadership and Repairing the World (Jewish Lights).  His book on prayer, Holistic Tefillah: A New Guide to Jewish Prayer, will be published this year by Toby Press.
Rabbi Weiss served as the National Chairman of the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry, and is the National President of AMCHA – the Coalition for Jewish Concerns.
The evening will begin at 6:30pm and end at 8pm
Pizza will be served, free of charge!