Washington DC

From the White House to Our House

There are two AVODAH batim in Washington, D.C., about a twenty-minute walk from one another. They are both in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Northwest Washington, off 16th St and three miles north of the White House. Although geographically close to downtown, the area is much further away culturally. Until recently Columbia Heights was a primarily low– and middle–income African-American neighborhood. However, beginning in the 1980s, a large influx of Central American immigrants began to move in and transform the area. The AVODAH Corps members live near the heart of the Latino community and are surrounded by pockets of other immigrant groups—Ethiopian, Vietnamese, and others. Now the area is facing yet another influx, this time from affluent homebuyers, commercial development, and gentrification. Though still largely a working-class neighborhood, more houses have been spiffed up by and for new buyers, new luxury condos are going up, and the neighborhood is becoming as economically diverse as it is ethnically.

The Columbia Heights batim are within a 30-40 minute walk of a Adas Israel (Conservative), Tikkun Leil Shabbat and DC Minyan, two traditional, egalitarian minyanim that are very popular with twenty-somethings in town. Within a short bus ride or 45 minute walk are the DC Jewish Community Center, DC’s small 14th St. theater district, and the popular Dupont Circle. The popular Adams Morgan area is about a 20 minute walk from the houses. The neighborhood immediately surrounding the houses offers a supermarket, a number of smaller groceries and bakeries, a pharmacy, banks, and a number of restaurants. Along with gentrification has come commercial development and the neighborhood now has many major chain stores, like Target, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Best Buy.

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AVODAH has been an intense, challenging, and rewarding year of service and friendship in Washington, D.C. I have learned so much about myself, social justice, and domestic violence, and I look forward to putting these skills to use in future educational and work plans."

Lauren Weiss2010-2011 Corps Member