About Us

2023-2024 DC Service Corps Members

Avodah develops lifelong social justice leaders whose work is informed by Jewish values and who inspire the Jewish community to work toward a more just and equitable world.

2017-2018 Avodah alumni gather for Shabbat dinner

Our Programs

We believe that Jewish leaders have the power to help change our country for the better. We train and support Jewish professionals at all levels of their careers with the tools, knowledge, and networks they need to contribute their skills and passion to advance social justice across the country and deepen the fabric of our diverse Jewish communities.

Our Leadership

We’ve brought together a powerful community of experts, advocates, educators, and scholars to guide Avodah toward making the greatest impact within the communities we serve, and the larger Jewish community.

Avodah Board Members and New Orleans Advisory Council Members at community gathering

“The Justice Fellowship connected me to a community of kindred spirits, all of whom shared passions and interests similar to mine. It also sparked in me the desire to deepen my relationship to my faith and connect my Judaism to my social justice work.”

— 2015-2016 Chicago Justice Fellowship alum

Our Values

Everything that we do is rooted in a rich relationship with Judaism – we draw inspiration from sacred text, and our spirits are nourished by the power of Jewish celebration and community.

Simcha / Joy

Though we consider antipoverty work an obligation, we strive to approach this work with a sense of joy. We hope to build a more joyful world in which all Americans are able to meet their physical, spiritual and material needs. We’re committed to making the journey towards this vision a joyful experience.

Chevrutah / Collaboration

Jewish tradition teaches that partners are critical to our ability to understand and act thoughtfully. We cannot fulfill our mission without partnership and collaborating. We seek to collaborate widely, engage all of our stakeholders, and establish new partnerships whenever possible. We must always seek out those whose input will make this endeavor stronger.

 

Kehillah / Community

Learning, work, and social change require community. No one of us can make social change on our own. We need a tight network of organized thought-partners with whom we can act. We also need people who help nourish our soul—celebrating life, holidays and victories together, while also mourning defeats and losses. We build and nurture the Avodah community so that we can create social change with others, while sustaining ourselves in the process.

Tzedek / Justice

Tzedek, tzedek tirdof – justice, justice shall you pursue” (Deuteronomy 16:20). Our tradition requires us to pursue justice. We do so by working to address both the effects and root causes of poverty and injustice. We also strive to create a just environment for all Avodah stakeholders, as we believe that the ways we pursue justice must themselves be just.

Dugma ishit / Setting an Example

To maximize our impact combating the causes and effects of poverty, we must strive for excellence in our work and in our outcomes. We aspire to be considered a role model for immersive Jewish service learning experiences. We aim to model the best practices in our field to lead the Jewish community to do high impact anti-poverty work that has a long-term positive effect, using our analyses of poverty and our understanding of Jewish values as a guide.

Arvut hadadit / Mutual Responsibility

We hold each other accountable to “walk our talk.” We are as invested in the success of others—within the Avodah community as well as in the broader Jewish social justice community—as we are in our own success. We are communicative and accountable to participants, alumni, stakeholders, funders, and colleagues.

Yoshra / Integrity

Jewish tradition teaches that we are responsible regardless of whether an act is intentional or inadvertent. Avodah strives to make principled decisions in all cases, from where we source our office supplies to how we treat our stakeholders. No act is too small to imbue with integrity and goodwill. We hold ourselves to high standards, expecting honest communication, assuming goodwill, and approaching one another and the world with generosity.

2023-2024 New York Service Corps Members
2023-2024 Chicago Justice Fellows
Institute for Social Change Foundation for Jewish Camps Cohort

Our History

For 25+ years, we’ve been inspiring Jewish leaders to commit to a life of social change, promoting a vision of Jewish life rooted in justice, and engaging the broader Jewish community in some of the most pressing issues facing our country at a local and national level.

In 1998, nine young volunteers moved into Avodah’s first Jewish Service Corps bayit (home) in New York City. Over the years, we expanded to Chicago, New Orleans, and Washington D.C, where more than 1,300 young Jewish leaders have served in local community nonprofits. It remains a core part of Avodah’s programming today.

In 2014, we launched the Justice Fellowship, which now operates in Chicago and New York City, bringing justice education to more than 300 young Jewish professionals in social change fields. 

In 2016, Avodah began making our Jewish social justice expertise available to the wider community through educational resources, workshops, speaker events, and consulting that have reached thousands of individuals and organizations.

In 2022, we launched the Avodah Institute for Social Change to help Jewish leaders make lasting structural transformations within their communities and institutions.

All along the way we have been proud to build a community of more than 1,500 alumni continuing to work for justice as professionals and lay leaders, in the Jewish community and beyond. They’re leading organizations, educating Jewish communities on the issues that matter, advocating for change on a local and national level, and helping everyday Americans who are working to make ends meet. They support each other, celebrate Jewish life together, and collaborate in their work for change.

Avodah Today

Today, we continue to build on our rich history by providing the tools, experience, and networks for Jewish leaders to create meaningful change. We educate hundreds of people each year who are passionate about exploring justice, Jewish life, and the powerful intersections between the two. Through social justice education, relationship building, and pluralistic Jewish community, we are creating a more just and equitable world.

Learn about this year’s cohort of Jewish Service Corps Members.

1 in 10

alumni are CEOs, Executive Director, or senior leader at their workplace*

81%

of alumni say Avodah inspired them to engage in further social justice work*

80%

of alumni are better equipped to strengthen their Jewish communities’ involvement in the fight for social justice*

92%

of alumni have worked in social services, social justice, or anti-poverty since completing Avodah*

 * of alumni polled in 2021 Avodah Alumni Survey

Be a Part of Our Future

By becoming a donor today, you’re investing in the next generation of Jewish justice leaders and the creation of a more equitable world.

2022-2023 New Orleans Service Corps Members