Announcing the Regional Educators Program

The Avodah Institute for Social Change is thrilled to announce the launch of the Regional Educators Cohort!
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This new initiative is a year-long professional development opportunity for Jewish education leaders in or near Cleveland, Detroit, Columbus, and Pittsburgh.

Educators will learn tools to ensure that justice is centrally woven into their educational ethos, from regular study and conversation about moral responsibility, to visionary structures that reflect the genuinely diverse needs and identities within our communities, to opportunities for action on essential local issues. The program launches June 2024 with a summer intensive and continues with coaching and learning opportunities through the 2024-2025 school year.

This cohort is geared towards mid- to senior-level leaders in Jewish youth educational settings who operate on a school-year schedule. This includes roles such as school department heads, youth group directors, synagogue or JCC education directors, and others.z

This is an incredible opportunity to make an impact in our Jewish educational spaces. To learn more or nominate an educator go to Avodah.net/institute-regional-educators/

Heartbroken: A Statement from our CEO

 

Our community is hurting and horrified following the brutal terrorist attack by Hamas. To say we are heartbroken, would not be saying enough.

Our hearts break for the civilians massacred, abducted, and injured in Israel, in the largest massacre of Jews in recent memory. There is no justification for the unspeakable crimes perpetrated last Shabbat.

Our hearts break for the Palestinian civilians killed in Gaza under continued bombardment and the many now forced to leave their homes.

Our heartbreak goes on and on, and we fear what will come next.

For 25 years Avodah has focused on justice issues within the United States. We build pluralistic communities that put Jewish teachings into action locally, and have not made statements about Israel/Palestine in the past.

But we know that the grief for those killed is not bound by borders. We know that the fear for the safety of loved ones crosses the globe. We know that Jews everywhere, informed by our history of persecution, are hurting right now. And we know that violence afflicts the conscience of all those who value justice and human rights.

This sorrow is unbearable to hold alone. So instead, we hold each other, wrapped in the warmth of our communities, traditions, and history. We return to our teachings that have guided Jews for generations, like “b’tselem elohim”, that every person is made in the image of G-d, and that the highest mitzvah is “pikuach nefesh”, to save a life. 

So what can we offer? Each other. We are here. You can reach out to our staff who have brilliance in Jewish text and values that sustains and nourishes us. We can be there for each other, even now — we have the tools to do that so well.

We return to the words of our liturgy: “We pray that we see the day when war and bloodshed cease, and nation does not lift sword against nation”.

Until then, we hold you, our community, in grief. 

Cheryl Cook
Avodah CEO

Life after college can be isolating. I found my community through Avodah.

By Chessy S., 2022–2023 Avodah New York Service Corps Member

Ever since I can remember, interpersonal connection has been both important and natural to me. I have always loved connecting with peers in school, with family, and with peers or mentors I came in contact with in various extracurricular or community activities. 

Before serving with Avodah, I worked as an Assistant Teacher in a preschool classroom at Wellspring Family Services in Seattle, WA. Wellspring’s Early Learning Center is committed to serving the needs of children experiencing the traumatic effects of homelessness in Seattle. In this role, I was markedly aware of the impact of race, education, health, housing, and immigration on young children. I learned to employ trauma-informed practices and to develop individualized learning goals for each child. Working at Wellspring emboldened me to utilize the advantages my positionality affords me to support individuals who suffer from socioeconomic inequality and disadvantage, as they are most in need of support and amongst those in our society who are least likely to receive it. 

While I was living in Seattle and working at this nonprofit job I had a few major qualms. Firstly, none of my friends nearby were working in nonprofits or in direct-service roles. This made it difficult for me to work through the experiences I was having on a daily basis with others I was in community with. Relatedly, I had no Jewish friends in Seattle. I tried to root myself in Jewish community. One way I tried was by becoming involved in the Jewish Coalition for Immigrant Justice. I participated in events ranging from legislative session priority planning to a monthly book club. Although these experiences were exciting and engaging in the moment, they were once a month and over Zoom. I found myself craving continued learning with others and was invigorated by the prospect of living in an intentional Jewish community through Avodah. These experiences I had in Seattle motivated me to pursue the service corps program.

As a member of the Avodah Service Corps, I am working at Sanctuary for Families, where I am a Project Assistant in their Matrimonial/Economic Justice project. SFF is New York’s leading service provider and advocacy organization for survivors of DV, sex trafficking, and related forms of gender violence. On the Mat/EJP team, I (and three other Project Assistants) work alongside lawyers who specialize in culturally sensitive and trauma-informed lawyering. 

In my role as a PA, I am able to triage client issues, prepare documents (for the lawyers, for the clients, for the Courts, etc.) and guide clients through the traumatic experiences of both sharing their stories of abuse and through the legal system at large. One of the most impactful recurring experiences I have had this year is of clients sharing that I have made this process easier, less scary, or less confusing. I have seen firsthand the pain and confusion that the legal system has had on clients at SFF.

In college, I received consistent messaging that working in a policy-related field would stretch my brain in ways I would find satisfying and important. Although that may be true, after the past two years working in direct service, I believe that is how I feel most fulfilled (at least for now!). 

I have found myself routinely taking stock of what this year has meant to me. Avodah places emphasis on self-reflection and intentionality in what we do––a continuous growing edge for me. For example, we have had the opportunity to learn in havruta (pairs) which has been meaningful and often challenging; I have been granted the opportunity this year to find my voice more and more in the safe haven of our intentional Jewish community. Throughout our various programming days, we ask questions and delve into Jewish texts together. A main goal of ours is often reframing these ancient texts contemporarily. This practice has allowed me to reflect in many ways on how I have come to be and what feels important to me moving forward.

My placement at SFF has been full of the ups and downs that come with interacting with the layered red tape from organizations (internal and otherwise) as well as government officials. The friendships I’ve made with my fellow NYC cohort members are indescribably powerful. There is such strength in coming home each day to seventeen other humans engaged in similar work with similar ups and downs. After rant-filled dinners, we often devolve into giggles and singing the random songs that have been stuck in everyone’s heads.

This year has been informative for me on both a personal and professional level. I have enjoyed being able to help clients understand the legal system while I, myself, have been learning alongside them about systems of sexism, economic injustice, and racism (just to name a few) that they (we!) are all a part of. 

I have spent many hours this year comparing and contrasting my work experiences at Sanctuary and Wellspring. I have learned so much from my colleagues and clients this year but have realized that the most authentic version of myself shares space and experience with children. I am most inspired by working alongside humans whose growing comprehension of the world changes drastically each day, and whose insights are brave and raw. Perhaps I’ll find myself back in the classroom next year or in the years to come! Wherever my path takes me, I am deeply grateful for Avodah’s role in helping me solidify my desire to work to support other humans in communities I am a part of and adjacent to with intentionality and care.


Applications for the 2023-2024 Service Corps program are still open! Learn more at avodah.net/serve.

Avodah Transforms Apathy into Energy

By Chana Sternberg, 2022–2023 Avodah Chicago Service Corps Member

By the end of my senior year of college, I was in a rut of apathy. After four years of studying international development, I had become thoroughly aware of the ramifications of capitalistic greed on society, but I could not find answers to the problem; good faith “solutions” seemed to only create other massive imbalances. I was sad and tired of hearing about band-aids that were applied to systems that begged to be rebuilt. I wondered about where to put my energy and what, if anything, I could do to make a difference.

Fortunately, my year as an Avodah Corps Member in Chicago has empowered me to embody the significance of my place in the world while providing an incredibly supportive intentional community that has shown me a different, more nurturing way of living. 

Avodah has equipped me with the skill-building tools, a community of peers, and opportunities for reflection that have helped me enter and navigate both justice work and a new stage of adulthood. As a Corps Member, I have gained work experience that has taught me how to strategize for long-term success in the intense world of nonprofits, where second-hand trauma can take its toll; enjoyed an incredible living situation with 11 strangers-turned-family; and benefitted from curated learning and reflection opportunities – thank you Avodah staff! –  that have taught me how to merge Jewish values with tangible action steps for social change, thus bringing the concept of tikkun olam (repairing the world) to life.

When I first arrived at my job placement with the LGBT Asylum Project at the National Immigrant Justice Center, I was somewhat nervous. My job consists of answering a hotline that recent immigrants call seeking legal representation and protections from deportation. I grew up speaking Spanglish, so I had some Spanish language skills, but I worried that I was not proficient enough. During my first few days, my performance anxiety was at an all time high as I answered the phone, trying to help detained people from Colombia and Venezuela navigate the asylum application process. I answered call after call, hoping the tone of my voice would be both professional and empathetic, knowing that my delivery might include hints of uncertainty and imperfect grammar. 

Since that first day, things have improved, thanks to so many wonderful, caring colleagues and supervisors. My colleagues helped me perfect my Spanish, enabling me to become more self-assured when working the hotline. Today, I answer calls with the conviction and confidence of knowing which measures to take to find the resources that each caller may need. And when I don’t have the answer, I know that I am just one message away from a colleague who will happily guide me.

This feeling of support extends from my workplace to the bayit. Whether I’m answering hotline calls from migrants in crisis at my cubicle or developing a chore system that meets the needs of my housemates, I find myself supported at every turn. I look forward to returning home from a long day at work to share a homemade meal with my housemates. With the smell of freshly baked focaccia hanging in the air, we might engage in a friendly venting session about the intricacies of the systemic limitations of social services work followed by a prayer to a G-d who means something unique to each of us.

This year-long experience has brought the concept of radical Jewish living down to earth for me, illustrating how accessible communal living and living Jewishly can be. Thus far, my greatest takeaway from Avodah has been the sheer impact of imagining the world as it could be. In August, as a newly initiated Corps Member, I was a bit skeptical of such idyllic-sounding rhetoric, as it seemed out of touch in the landscape of Chicago, where too many of our neighbors live unhoused, unfed, unseen. Six months into my Avodah year, I am proud to feel empowered by the Jewish mysticism that feeds the ideas and actions of the progressive space we occupy. I’ve realized that my cohort and I are not only envisioning the world as it could be, but are building that world, one hotline call and communal meal at a time.

Celebrating 20 Years of Avodah in Washington, D.C

Shula, a current Avodah DC Service Corps Member, and Emily, a 2018-2019 Jewish Service Corps alum together at CASA.

During her senior year at Union College, Emily Sullivan spent time on the Mexican-American border, where she met individuals and families who shared stories about their difficult journeys to America and the anxiety caused by not having official immigration status.

After witnessing the system in action, Emily decided she wanted to work in the immigration field to support people in attaining a more permanent, secure life in America. So, when she saw a listing to join Avodah’s class of 2018-2019 and work in the immigration field in Washington, D.C., she jumped.

“It sounded like a great opportunity to do the type of work I wanted to do in the immigration and social justice sphere,” says Emily, who spent the year with CASA, an immigration organization that serves the mid-Atlantic region.

Emily is one of 387 Avodah Service Corps Members who have found meaningful work through Avodah’s site in Washington, D.C., which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Corp Members annually provide thousands of hours of assistance a year to non-profits around Washington that greatly need additional people-power to meet the demand of their clients.

At CASA, the Avodah Corps Member typically works with people who have Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status, which protects people who immigrated to the United States as children from deportation and allows them to work. Over the course of the year, the Avodah Corps Members will typically assist 500 applicants to renew their status. 

“The Avodah corps members are a very integral part of our legal department,” says Lucia Curiel, the supervising immigration attorney at CASA. “They are straight out of college, but they really hit the ground running and it has real life implications for people.” 

After Emily, now 27, finished her Avodah year, she stayed on at CASA. In 2020, she was promoted to legal services coordinator. Today, she is a Department of Justice-accredited representative, which allows her to legally represent a wide array of immigration cases. Now she helps people apply for green cards and works with immigrants who have been victims of a crime to secure visas. 

“I feel good about my job,” Emily says.

Another highlight of her job is co-supervising the Avodah fellows along with Lucia. This year’s Corps Member, Shula Bronner, said she chose Avodah because she was looking for a post-college opportunity that would allow her to do social justice work in a supportive environment, which is exactly what she found at CASA.

“Everyone is really supportive, and I’m respected as someone who has something to add,” Shula says. “I am given a lot of independence to manage the workflow.”

For Shula, 22, working with DACA applicants has been both fulfilling and eye-opening. She says that she has seen how important the DACA status is, particularly in families where not everyone has work status. 

“My DACA clients are often supporting their families because they have work status,” she explains.

Although she does not know what she wants to do when her year with Avodah comes to an end, Shula says that the Service Corps has helped her to learn what she wants.

“Avodah taught me what a supportive working environment looks like and I do know that I want to be in client-facing direct services or policy change,” Shula says. “I’ve just learned so much.”

What steps can Jewish camps take to advance social justice?

Leadership for Social Change Cohort members with cohort faculty and Avodah and Foundation for Jewish Camp staff at Ramah Darom; the group is gathered together, facing the camera and smiling

Last week, senior staff and directors from Jewish day and overnight camps from around the country gathered in Georgia to begin exploring this question. The retreat kicked off an 18-month training program through a partnership between Foundation for Jewish Camp and the Avodah Institute for Social Change. 

Over the course of four days, the 18 participants in the Leadership for Social Change cohort discussed their own social justice journeys and delved into topics such as the foundations of social justice in Jewish thought and anti-Black racism. 

The interactive programs and lectures were led by expert faculty members, including Catherine Bell, a non-profit consultant and coach; Caroline Rothstein, a poet, writer, and educator; Yoshi Silverstein, founder and executive director of Mitsui Collective, a non-profit that builds resilient community through embodied Jewish practice and somatic anti-racism; and Yehudah Webster, program director at the Inside Out Wisdom and Action Project, which provides social justice leaders with the tools of Jewish spirituality. Sarra Alpert, the Director of Avodah Institute for Social Change, served as an educator, along with guest teacher Rabbi Joshua Lesser of Atlanta, Georgia.

Left: Avodah Institute Director Sarra Alpert leads a session on Avodah's framework of social justice; participants are seated as Sarra stands next to an easel with chart paper 

Right: Cohort members and faculty engage in a session on somatic antiracism led by Yoshi Silverstein; people are spread out on a basketball court in pairs

“I feel like I got more from the program than I know how to express,” one participant said. “I will be sitting with and exploring these thoughts and feelings for a long time.” 

The program was based on several of the Institute’s core principles. One such principle is that racism, and anti-Blackness specifically, are at the roots of all injustice in America. Therefore, leaders who wish to practice social justice must learn about the roots of systemic biases while embarking on their own personal journeys.

Also core to the Avodah Institute’s vision is the understanding that transformational, liberatory, visionary work takes time and care, and that it is necessary to practice accountability while giving people room to learn and grow. In order to guide and support participants in a practice of self-reflection and deep growth, the program offers peer and individual coaching. During the retreat, participants had one-on-one coaching sessions with their faculty coaches, which allowed them to set the stage for the growth to come. They will continue meeting with their faculty coaches throughout the remainder of the cohort experience.

Cohort members also learned about somatic anti-racism and embodied social justice leadership, with the goal of developing new insights into how justice and injustice show up in the body, mind, heart, and actions. Over the course of the program participants will learn to use spiritual and somatic tools as they navigate their social justice journeys, both personally and communally.  

Avodah launched the Avodah Institute for Social Change in response to movements for racial justice and urgent calls for more diverse, equitable, and inclusive communities. The primary goal is to help staff and leadership at Jewish organizations learn how to center tzedek (justice) in their work and programs. Over time, the in-depth learning is expected to ripple out and contribute to the broader movement for social change.

Last year, Avodah partnered with Hillel for a six-month pilot program. Avodah lengthened the program to add more training. The partnership with Federation for Jewish Camp will culminate with participants designing and implementing social justice programs at their camps in the summer of 2024.

“We’re truly inspired by the number of camp leaders who are willing to commit to this long-term, in-depth process of centering social justice both in their own leadership and in their camp environments,” said Sarra Alpert, Director of the Avodah Institute for Social Change.

Avodah Institute for Social Change Partners with Foundation for Jewish Camp

 

Avodah is proud to announce that it has partnered with Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) for the second cohort program of the Avodah Institute for Social Change. The 18-month program trains Jewish community professionals to develop their Jewish justice skills. The program is facilitated by a set of diverse and accomplished Jewish educators from across the social justice sector, including Catherine Bell, Caroline Rothstein, Yoshi Silverstein, and Yehudah Webster.

Avodah established the Institute in response to a growing demand from Jewish organizations for professional development that would help promote greater diversity, equity, and inclusion within their communities. Through retreats, workshops, coaching, and peer mentoring, the Institute will provide eighteen Jewish day and overnight camp senior staff with opportunities to learn about social justice, respond to issues that matter to their campers and staff, and develop skills to deepen their camp’s commitment to equity and inclusion. 

Participants of the Leadership for Social Change cohort include JCamp, Westside JCC; URJ Jacobs Camp; URJ Camp Coleman; Camp J, Tucson JCC; Camp Young Judaea Sprout Lake; BB Day Camps Portland; Camp Sabra; Urban Adamah; URJ Greene Family Camp; Camp Havaya; URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy; Camp Sabra; Camp Avoda; Berkshire Hills Eisenberg Camp; and Camp Kinderland.

Read the full press release here.


The Avodah Institute for Social Change is generously funded by Crown Family Philanthropies, Dorot Foundation, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Jim Joseph Foundation, Irving Harris Foundation, Perlin Family Foundation, The Rakin Family, Sally Gottesman, Alisa and Daniel Doctoroff, Martine and Stanley Fleishman, and Ruth Wolman.

Avodah at the White House by CEO Cheryl Cook

Two white women in formal attire standing in front of the White House menorah with three candles lit
Cheryl Cook and Avodah Board Chair, Lynne Wasserman

When I received the invitation to the White House Chanukah party, my first thought was of my ancestors and those of my spouse. How amazed these immigrants, who fled the towns of Eastern Europe and the Ottoman Empire, would be to know that not only was the White House standing up to anti-Semitism with a full embrace of the Jewish community, but that I was among the hundreds of Jewish leaders invited to be part of the lighting of the White House menorah.

I’ve often pondered the idea of homeland. As a wandering people, my ancestors have had many homes. My children can trace their lineage back generations to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Ukraine, Salonica, and Ireland; not all of us have this privilege. Today, I have deep roots both in the land where I was raised, with its small hills and Great Lakes, and in the city I have chosen, with its tall buildings, tree-lined streets, and walkable neighborhoods. Standing in the White House amid many colleagues, I was reminded that wherever in America we have planted our roots we have not only the right but the responsibility to make sure that this homeland of ours lives up to its ideals.

After the lighting of the White House’s newly unveiled, first permanent menorah, made from beams that were salvaged when President Truman renovated the mansion in 1950, President Biden spoke to the Jewish people’s integral role as Americans.

“The story of America is the story of you, of all of us, drawing strength from those who came before, spreading the fire that burns in our hearts, grateful for the miracles of love and faith and kindness and courage that surround us each and every day,” Biden said.

This is our home and we have work to do to build the communities and country that meet every person’s basic needs and give everyone the chance to achieve their fullest potential.  Biden’s words kindled an even stronger sense of commitment to persist in advancing Avodah’s mission: to develop lifelong social justice leaders who inspire the Jewish community to work toward a more just and equitable world.

As Avodah celebrates its 25th anniversary, I invite everyone to join us in this effort. As Jews and Americans, we all have a role to play in ensuring that America fulfills its promise of life, liberty, and justice for all. Together, we can write a story of universal liberation that will reverberate throughout the generations.

 

Meet the Leadership for Social Change Facilitators

After a successful first year, the Avodah Institute for Social Change will present its second leadership development cohort for senior-level Jewish professionals: Leadership for Social Change, beginning in January. The program is facilitated by a set of diverse and accomplished Jewish educators from across the social justice sector, including: Catherine Bell, Caroline Rothstein, Yoshi Silverstein, and Yehudah Webster.

The cohort, a partnership of the Avodah Institute and Foundation for Jewish Camp, is an 18-month program for year-round staff leadership team members to deepen the work of social justice programming at Jewish camps across the country.

From left to right: Catherine Bell, Caroline Rothstein, Yoshi Silverstein, and Yehudah Webster.
From left to right: Catherine Bell, Caroline Rothstein, Yoshi Silverstein, and Yehudah Webster.

Catherine Bell: through coaching, facilitation, and training, Catherine Bell works with people and teams to lead from a place of wholeness and authenticity. Her expertise spans career development, executive leadership, power and privilege in the workplace, and navigating conflict. Her work centers on DEI training, particularly in relation to gender identity/sexual orientation, antiracism work for white people, and power/privilege.

Caroline Rothstein: an internationally touring writer, poet, performer, and educator, Caroline Rothstein, performs spoken word poetry, publicly speaks, facilitates workshops, and teaches year-round. Her work goes deep, offering narratives on the injustices of our time that are as heart-wrenching as they are inspiring. Her work has appeared in Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, The Guardian, BuzzFeed, NYLON, Narratively, The Forward, and elsewhere. Caroline and her work have been featured widely including in The New Yorker, MTV News, Chicago Tribune, CBS Evening News, BuzzFeed News, HuffPost, Mic, and Newsweek.

Yoshi Silverstein: In leading the Mitsui Collective, Yoshi Silverstein approaches Jewish education with a holistic lens that engages not only the mind, but also the body, heart, and soul. Recently awarded the prestigious Pomagranite Prize, his work seeks to nourish body and soul through meaning-making, purposeful connection, and creative expression. He was also selected as a 2021 “Grist 50 Fixer” for his work in building a more just and equitable future. A Chinese Ashkenazi American Jew, Yoshi Silverstein is also an active advocate and educator in the Jews of Color community. Formerly Director of the JOFEE Fellowship at Hazon, he is a Senior Schusterman Fellow, sits on the Board of Directors for Repair the World, and is an alumnus of Selah, the Dorot Fellowship, and the Jewish Pedagogies Fellowship with M²: The Institute for Experiential Jewish Education.

Yehudah Webster: As a faculty member for Inside Out Wisdom and Action, Yehudah Webster leverages Torah spirituality and Jewish wisdom in fostering collective anti-racist Teshuvah. As a community organizer for Jews for Racial & Economic Justice (JFREJ), he led police accountability and transformative justice campaigns through grassroots efforts and legislative reform. Born as a Christian in Guyana, Yehudah’s Jewish journey began at age 8 in South Orange, NJ, where he and his family converted. Growing up in the face of white hegemony, he now facilitates workshops and speaks to audiences around the country to inspire and empower the Jewish community to commit to racial justice and make space for Jews of Color. He is a graduate of JFREJ’s Grace Paley Organizing Fellowship and Bend the Arc’s Selah Leadership Program.

Learn more about the Leadership for Social Change cohort program here.

Graphic promotion for the Leadership for Social Change cohort showing Avodah and Foundation for Jewish Camp logos over a group of smiling mid-to senior-level professionals.

Avodah Gift Guide: 16 Alumni Artists & Creators to Support this Holiday Season

Chanukah is quickly approaching and while big box stores often dominate this season of giving, we encourage you to shop small. Below are 16 Avodah alumni artists and makers whose creations offer something for every beloved person in your life (even the ones who already have everything). Better yet, many of the purchases from these talented alumni artists go toward supporting social justice causes, making them gifts you can feel good about.

Here is our Avodah Gift Guide featuring 16 alumni artists, crafters, and makers using art to make a difference.

From left to right, images feature works by Avodah alumni Amy Ravis Furey, Genia Blaser, Raina Fox, Tali Levy-Bernstein, and Perri Wilson.

Jordan Aiken – Ketubot and Jewelry 

While participating in Avodah New Orleans Service Corps, Jordan served at a women’s shelter. She has since gone on to work in healthcare, legal, and LGBTQ advocacy spaces. Outside of work, she is also a painter, calligrapher, and jeweler. Follow her Instagram and view her Judaic art collections here. You can also place a custom ketubah or jewelry order! 

Genia Blaser – Watercolors

Watercolors and sketch prints are a specialty of Genia Blaser, who served as a Corps Member in NYC from 2005-2006. By day, Genia works as a non-profit immigration attorney and in her free time, practices watercolors, portraits, and more. All of her watercolors and prints can be found on her Instagram page at @GeniaPaints.

Jamie Diamond – Jewelry and Art

New Orleans Service Corps alum Jamie Diamond returned to New York after her service year and now works for Hebrew Union College. In addition to her day job, Jamie makes sustainable, feminist-friendly jewelry and art, primarily from upcycled watch parts, typewriter keys, recycled glass, dried flowers, and more. She also does custom oil paintings You can view and order her work on Instagram

Sarah Farbman – Gift of Music with Personalized Songs

For a one-of-a-kind personalized gift, look no further than Passing Notes, where you can send personalized songs as gifts thanks to Avodah alum Sarah Farbman, her partner, and sister-in-law, who started the small business. According to their website, the lyricists write completely original, personalized songs customizable down to the instrumentation, style, and topic. Give them the deets, and they’ll give you the beats (and the rest of the song too)! Order a song here.

Marlana Fireman – Art by Firelight Studio NOLA

New Orleans-based writer and artist Marlana Fireman completed the Jewish Service Corps in 2017. Her shop, Firelight Studio, features spooky, fun, and sex-positive art. With postcards, packs of stickers, and framed prints, there’s a lot to choose from! She also takes commissions.

Jett George – Prints and Stickers

Jett George is a former member of our New York Service Corps cohort. As their website says, “Jett is a non-binary trans artist, activist, jewexx, and sweet Gemini baby. They’re here to make art aligned with their values of trans liberation, prison/police abolition, anti-racism, ending gender-based violence, and disability justice.” Stay up to date on Jett’s work via Instagram.

Sarah Gordon – Jewelry and Ceramics from Slow Makers Club

Sarah settled in Philadelphia after participating in our Service Corps and has since co-created Slow Makers Club. Each quarter, 10 percent of all ceramics and earring sales from the shop go to support various Black and/or queer-led organizations in Pennsylvania. You can see more pieces and stay up-to-date on new offerings via Instagram.

Raina Fox – Cards on a Mission

Former D.C. Corps Member Raina Fox’s professional background intersects with many issue areas, including sexual health services, refugee support, and LGBTQ advocacy. Raina makes and sells block-printed greeting cards (and even teaches block printing as a community-building avenue). Over the years 100 percent of proceeds from the sale of these cards have been donated to community groups advancing LGBTQIA+ rights, indigenous and Black-led social movements, abortion access, and more. This year, all proceeds will go to the DC Migrant Solidarity Mutual Aid Network to provide respite, transport, food, supplies, and more. If you don’t see something that sparks your interest, Raina also makes custom blocks for large orders. You can follow her on Instagram as well.

Laurie Herschman Heller – LH Print Shop

Laurie came to the Chicago Service Corps in 2007 with a background in art and communications. After Avodah, she traveled abroad and then made her home in Boston. She runs LH Print Shop, with designs created to “make your walls smile.”

Tali Levy-Bernstein – Bold Earrings and Clay Works

Tali was a Chicago Corps Member from 2017-2018. She is currently in graduate school working toward an MAT to teach history in Chicago Public Schools. Along with her friend, Shula Ornstein, Tali began selling handcrafted polymer clay earrings this year. The earrings are very colorful, lightweight, and affordable, making them a great gift for anyone in your life who loves bold, statement jewelry.  Follow Tali and Shula on Instagram at @claystuff94. They have also just started an Etsy shop also under claystuff94.

Lauren Lowenstein – Art for Always Ketubahs

An alum of the D.C. Service Corps, Lauren Lowenstein, who has a background in social work and health care, runs ART for ALWAYS ketubahs. You can browse her gallery of original contemporary and abstract ketubahs on Instagram is a gallery of past works.

Danielle Moyal – Watercolor Stickers

Danielle Moyal participated in Avodah’s Jewish Service Corps in New Orleans from 2020-2021. When Danielle’s not doing prison abolition or environmental justice work, she’s creating adorable watercolor stickers. You can check out her shop here.

Amy Ravis Furey – Accessories by Little Furey

When she’s not running the Avodah Kansas City Justice Fellowship, alumna Amy Ravis Furey, pursues justice through craftivism. Her shop, Little Furey features handmade creations that aim to raise consciousness “one stitch at a time.” Her Instagram includes shop updates and personal musings. 

Kaetlin Ritchie – Graphic Tees from Golden Willows

Kaetlin Ritchie was a D.C. Corps Member in 2015. Today, she runs Golden Willows, selling shirts with hand-drawn, collage, and photography design elements. All of Golden Willows’ shirts are made from sustainably sourced cotton. “The images are meant to inspire and spark meaningful conversation.” 

Jordan Rubenstein – Affirming Merch from The Crafty Queer

Jordan Rubenstein was an Avodah Justice Fellow in New York and has been an advocate in many Jewish and non-Jewish spaces. They helped their spouse, Alister, launch The Crafty Queer, selling art and merch “for all your LGBTQ and recovery-affirming needs.” Their products range from tote bags to earrings to baby onesies. In addition to checking out their shop, follow The Crafty Queer on Instagram.

Cori Strell – Wax Wraps for Zero-Waste Food Storage

By day, Cori Strell, who completed the NYC Service Corps in 2021-2022, works at her former Avodah placement, The Brave House. With her spare time, Cori makes bee’s wax wraps that can be used as an alternative to plastic wrap. They come in 4-piece variety packs for $30 , including shipping. She also facilitates zero-waste work shops for those interested. Visit Waxbees.online or follow @Waxbeeswraps on Instagram to place an order.

Perri Wilson – Paintings and Sketches

When she’s not serving at Bread for the City’s legal clinic, current D.C. Corps Member Perri Wilson is an avid painter. Her collections span oil and acrylic works, as well as sketches and pastels. Perri’s available work can be purchased here. She also takes commissioned orders to turn treasured photos into paintings! To reach Perri directly, email pcw.135@gmail.com. Additionally, 30 percent of all proceeds from this season’s sales will go to the International Rescue Committee.

Are you an Avodah alum who creates and sells art, merchandise, or other products? Email alindner@avodah.net and we will add you to our directory of artists.