What will I learn?
You will gather weekly to learn with other corps members, and attend weekend retreats throughout the year. During these sessions, you will meet with a wide variety of top-level activists, trainers and educators to learn more about the dynamics of urban poverty. You will also learn how to become an effective agent for social change, and the way that Jewish history, culture and religion connect to your work to combat poverty and strengthen community.
Previous sessions have been led by outstanding facilitators, educators and leaders, including:
- Charles Allen III, Advisor to New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu on Coastal and Environmental Affairs and Chair of the Mayor’s office of Coastal and Environmental Affairs
- Dr. Richard Campanella, Associate Director of Tulane University's Center for Bioenvironmental Research and Research Professor with Tulane's Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences
- Rachel Durschlag, Founder and Executive Director, Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation
- Mary Jacksteit, Associate with the Public Conversations Project
- Rabbi Ethan Linden, Rabbi of Shir Chadash in New Orleans
- Ruth Messinger, Executive Director of American Jewish World Service and former Manhattan Borough President
- Jackie Mondros, Dean at the Hunter School of Social Work
- Dr. Sabiyha Prince, Professor of Cultural Anthropology at American University
- Jon Rosenberg, CEO of Repair the World
- Tom Waters, Housing Policy Analyst at the Community Service Society
Past session topics include:
- Why a Jewish Social Justice Movement? - Guests from around the Jewish social justice community, as well as AVODAH staff and alumni join together with corps members for a conversation about what the social justice role and priorities should be for the Jewish community. Participants share their Jewish justice journeys, study a text in pairs, and participate in discussion in groups, examining questions like: How does the Jewish social justice community set its agenda and where do we dedicate our resources? and What are some of the benefits and drawbacks of doing justice work from a Jewish location?
- Gender as a Social Justice Issue - Conducted in a round-robin format, corps members have an opportunity to engage with different terminology related to issues of gender and sexual identity, have conversations about the ways that their workplaces work or fail to uphold just gender workplace policy, understand and unpack hetero and cisgender privilege, compare and understand personal, political and Jewish values related to gender and sexual identity, and analyze current policy around gender and sexual identity.
- Class Privilege Workshop - Corps members learn about class privilege in the United States and explore manifestations of class in their workplaces and in their community. Corps members use the second half of this workshop to discuss solutions to classism they can employ in their daily routines, at their placements, and in their bayit community.
- Shabbat as a Radical Practice - Corps members explore the idea of Shabbat from several angles: the concept of rest and peacefulness as a tool and source of inspiration for activists; the inherently radical ideas within the structure of Shabbat (i.e., time apart from consumption; prioritizing face-to-face community; people of all income levels being entitled to rest, etc); and how to best take advantage of their own Community Shabbat spaces during the year.
- Social Activism Skill Building - Sessions throughout the year are dedicated to creating a strong set of skills for social change, including community organizing techniques, communication for change, and new media.
- Site Visits - AVODAH corps members visit each other's work sites throughout the year to extend the scope of their learning. Site-visits help corps members broaden their understanding of the multiple issues that are related to poverty including hunger, literacy, workers’ rights and healthcare. Corps members also get a chance to compare the various methods of achieving social change that are employed by different organizations, including direct service, education, advocacy and community organizing.
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Site visits and educational programming were so fundamental and helpful in expanding my understanding of the underlying needs of society. I loved how AVODAH enabled my first year entering the workforce to be educational, inspiring, supportive, and exploratory."
Andrea Kramar2010-2011 Corps Member