Alumni Spotlight: Traveling a path rooted in Judaism and social justice

Published Jul 19, 2016
Rabbi Brian Fink headshot

Brian Fink wasn’t quite sure of his path when he joined our Jewish Service Corps, but it wasn’t long until he found one.

Brian was in one of our first cohorts, working as a Legal Advocate in the Homelessness and Outreach Prevention Program at the Urban Justice Center (UJC) in New York City.

He fought on behalf of clients who had been put into difficult positions by the system, dealing with anything from public benefit denials to unfair housing practices. The individual advocacy he worked on ultimately led to a class action suit to change policies that were harming vulnerable New Yorkers.

Brian went on to work at UJC for five years, and during his tenure, took on the work of supporting clients who were affected by the tragic events of 9/11.

Starting this work with Avodah, from a Jewish place, and living in a pluralistic community had a deep impact on Brian: “Avodah both complicated and deepened my social justice awareness and identity as well as my Jewish identity. Some of the people around me were more radical than I was, and they challenged and pushed me to deepen my own thinking. At the same time, I came to understand that I was best positioned to make change through my Jewish community.”

This led Brian to pursue rabbinical school at Reconstructionist Rabbinical College with the desire to put social justice at the heart of his rabbinate, and he’s continued to do so, empowering college students and older adults, working to deepen the commitment to volunteerism within the Jewish community.

Today, as the Director of the Engage Jewish Service Corps, part of the Wechsler Center for Modern Aging at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan, Brian is bringing the power of service to the Jewish Baby Boomer population in New York City, enabling participants to leverage a lifetime of career skills towards addressing local poverty issues. Since his year as a Corps Member, he’s traveled a path rooted in Judaism and social justice, even though it wasn’t so clear at the beginning.

“When I graduated from college, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. Avodah gave me a transition into the working world, connected me to the Jewish community, helped me to get a job I never would have gotten otherwise, and set me onto the path that I continue on to this day. It was the base from which I’ve explored everything I’ve done.”

Featured Stories

Read more stories like this

Sign up for our emails and you’ll be the first to hear about our the impact our Avodahniks are making in creating a more just world.