Avodah Stands With DACA Recipients

 

“The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the stranger as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”-Leviticus 19:34

The decision announced last week to end the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program, which temporarily shields undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children from deportation, is a devastating blow to 800,000 young people in our country who are working, going to school, and serving in our military. As Jews, we are taught that we have an obligation to “love the stranger,” as we have been strangers throughout our history. It is a tenant of our Jewish values, as well as American ones, as we are a nation of immigrants.

For all those affected by the recent announcement, including those within our Avodah family who may themselves be impacted, or whose loved ones may be affected, please know that we support you and we are here for you.

When we see vulnerable populations under threat, one thing that keeps us so inspired is the dedication of our Jewish Service Corps Members and alumni, who are rising to meet the needs of this historic moment.  We are so proud to have our Jewish Service Corps Members working with incredible organizations all over the country (listed below) who are on the front lines of immigration reform and working to protect the rights of vulnerable young people. With unwavering moral courage, our participants work in all facets of immigration, helping families stay together, creating paths to education and employment, and giving a voice to those in the shadows.

We’d like to share a few of their experiences with you:

Photo by Paolo J. Riveros.

Briana Carp (Avodah Jewish Service Corps, NYC ‘08-09) worked with immigrant populations at Sanctuary for Families during her Avodah year and is now continuing her work in the field as Coordinator of Legal Information at Comprehensive Development Inc. (CDI) at the Manhattan Comprehensive Night and Day School, which works to help underserved high school students graduate high school and successfully move into the workforce and higher education.

 

 

 

 

Melissa Fich (Avodah Jewish Service Corps, NYC ‘15-16) worked with the New York Legal Assistance Group  (NYLAG) and now works for the organization as a paralegal within the Immigrant Protection Unit. She is a first generation American of Venezuelan descent.

How did your Avodah experience lead you toward your work on immigrants rights?

Briana: “My placement with Sanctuary for Families through Avodah gave me the foundation to do this work. I saw the ways that one’s immigration’s status made people vulnerable to exploitation, which is the basis of a lot of struggles.”

Melissa: “I found that doing Avodah gave me a really strong foundation to draw connections between my work in immigration and Judaism. I think of the idea of welcoming the stranger and the Passover story, remembering that we were once strangers, too. I found these connections to be meaningful and powerful.”

Can you tell me what impact DACA has had on the lives of your clients?

Briana:  “After hearing the news, I was pretty devastated. I thought about the youth I’ve worked with. DACA made a huge difference for them. Having a work permit has for the first time has given them stable employment and some have been able to go to college, even though they aren’t eligible for financial aid (that’s one way DACA didn’t go far enough). Some have been able to visit their home country and see their family members for the first time since they were very little and that can make a huge difference in their lives. Most of all, it gave them freedom from the fear of deportation…The folks I work with are strong and resilient, but I see constant fear from my students. It makes their life hard and puts them at risk in other ways. I see the emotional toll of hiding who you are. One of my students was finally able to get a green card and he told me,  ‘I can finally breathe.’”

Melissa: “DACA has made a huge difference for my clients. They can breathe easier going to work and school knowing they have protection from deportation. Some of them didn’t even know they were undocumented because they were brought here at such a young age. They consider themselves American. Many of my clients have mixed immigration status families and being able to work legally, support their families, have a social security card, and open a bank account has changed their lives. Some of my clients are studying in high school and others are in college. Some are looking to become doctors, nurses, lawyers or go into computer science. They have this future as the next generation and I think that losing DACA will force them back into the shadows to financially survive.”

How do you think your own family’s Jewish immigration story influences or motivates you to protect immigrant populations?

Briana: “With the history of immigrants fleeing the Holocaust, fleeing violence in the Soviet Union, and knowing how some were turned away only to be sent back, we have a lot in common with many of the immigrants I work with. My grandmother is from France. She lived through the war and I think there are a lot of parallels to those escaping violence today. As Jews, we really have an obligation to stand up for immigrant rights. Thinking about my own family’s story of Jewish immigration is where I look to for inspiration in my work now to protect immigrants. It’s part of what drives me.”

Melissa: “My family is from Venezuela and I’m first generation American. I have cousins in Venezuela and because of food shortages and antisemitism, my own family members had to leave and were granted asylum. Because of that, I’ve learned to appreciate how quickly a place someone calls home can turn to a place of fear. That’s a big motivation for me – recognizing the situations people have to escape from. It’s especially dangerous in Latin America. Many times, families didn’t have a choice. The young people under DACA didn’t get to have a say. They consider themselves American.”

 

Avodah is proud to serve alongside organizations across the country working to create a more just world for immigrant populations. They include:

For those who may be affected, or whose families may be affected by the ending of the DACA, here are some helpful resources:

Inspiration and Introspection For the New Year

 

Every day during this month of Elul, we blow the shofar as a wake-up call to our hearts and minds. It’s our reminder to take an honest self-evaluation, a real heshbon hanefesh, an accounting of the soul, so that we may take the necessary steps to create a sweet, new year, as we head into Rosh Hashana.

As we listen to the shofar this month, we’re also thinking about how to equip ourselves with the right tools to best take on our work for social justice in the new year. Creating social change is hard work. Progress takes time. That’s why we’re offering you this guide for inspiration for the long haul: “11 Ways to Stay in the Justice Game,” created by our founder, Rabbi David Rosenn. We hope these tips will inspire new ways of thinking about social justice work and help you dig in and prepare for 5778.

If you would like a poster or pocket version of “11 Ways to Stay in the Justice Game” to share with your friends, family, networks, or use as a personal resource, please let us know.

Click below to view and print the “11 Ways to Stay in the Justice Game.”

 

Avodah Service Corps Members Help Students Get Ahead

Erez Mirer with two students at Teens Run DC.
Erez Mirer of Brooklyn, NY serves at Teens Run DC during the 2016-17 school year.

It’s back to school season and this time of year, we’re thinking a lot about equal access to quality education. Whether the result of poorly-funded schools or outside factors such as unstable housing and food insecurity, students from low-income families face immense challenges to obtain a quality education and break the cycle of poverty. That’s why we’re so proud to have our Corps Members working as college counselors, youth workers, and after-school program assistants to break down barriers and directly impact students’ lives to help them reach success.

Erez Mirer of Brooklyn, NY served this past year at Teens Run DC, an organization that promotes the physical, social, and emotional well-being of underserved youth through a mentoring and distance running program.

“Something that’s been really meaningful for me this year at my placement is helping students realize their full potential and give them the life skills that will help them throughout their entire lives,” Erez said.

Our Jewish Service Corps Members don’t just work to improve educational opportunities for children though. Check out this profile in The Times Picayune about the ‘Fab Five’ volunteers, who worked as education superheroes this year leading a free adult literacy program at the YMCA Education Services (YES) of Greater New Orleans.

During the 2017-18 school year, our Jewish Service Corps Members will be working with some of the country’s best student-focused organizations including: Girls in the Game (Chicago), Girls on the Run New Orleans, Communities In Schools of Greater New Orleans, Inc., YMCA of Greater New Orleans, Adams Street Foundation (New York City), Crown Heights Community Mediation Center (NYC), Educational Alliance’s Manny Cantor Center (NYC), Comprehensive Development, Inc (NYC), Byte Back (DC), Teens Run DC, DC SCORES, and others!

A New Kind of B’nai Mitzvah Project

What if a B’nai Mitzvah project could make a lasting change in the world? That’s what Clara Rotter-Laitman questioned as she embarked on her Jewish Learning Opportunity through the Avodah Justice Fellowship in Chicago.

Together with illustrator Kayla Ginsburg, Clara created a “zine,” a homemade magazine, for Jewish students and educators to help in creating more meaningful B’nai Mitzvah projects.

Mitzvah projects are social action initiatives that have become popular for Jewish children to take on while they prepare for their Bar/Bat Mitzvahs. Often these projects include donating to a cause or volunteering for a day. The sentiments behind these initiatives are well-intended: practice the commandment of tzedakah, charity, and encourage the act of tikkun olam, repairing the world. However,  as Clara points out in her zine, one-and-done volunteer initiatives often fall short of meaningfully addressing the issues they intend to impact. For example, volunteering at a food drive is a kind gesture, if it addresses the needs of the particular food pantry, but it doesn’t prompt a budding tween to question why a community is food insecure in the first place or help to inspire a lasting solution. Maybe a B’nai Mitzvah project could do more.

Clara believed that given the appropriate framework, tools, and resources to think bigger, young Jews could examine the root causes of poverty and other social issues and learn the best methods to effect change – through advocacy, direct service, philanthropy, and community organizing.

To help students, synagogues, and Jewish institutions explore what it looks like to meaningfully (and Jewishly) engage in social justice work, Clara and Kayla Ginsburg created the beautiful zine, that speaks to and illustrates the acts of learning, listening, and liberation, complete with worksheets and resources for educators.

“You are totally capable of analyzing the root causes of society’s problems and doing something that makes a real difference,” Clara states in the eye-catching zine.

To view, download or print the zine, visit fromstarfishtosolidarity.tumblr.com.

Want to learn how you can be a changemaker in today’s world? Apply to be an Avodah Justice Fellow!

May We Come Together

This past weekend, we once again bore witness to the tragic destruction of life that hate leaves in its path. The vile and vitriolic rhetoric and actions of neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville, Va, serve as an ever-present reminder that we must not be silent in the face of racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and all forms of bigotry.

Images of torches, white hoods, and Nazi and Confederate flags waving in unison should sound a blaring alarm to every person in our nation. White supremacist movements put Jews, people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ people, and ultimately all people at risk of violence. Both Jewish and American history demand that we speak out and work for a nation that fully rejects hatred in all forms.

We mourn the loss of life and the injuries sustained in this weekend’s violence. We call on all, especially our nation’s leaders, to hold those who carried out these hate-filled acts accountable for their actions to the fullest extent of the law.

It was Elie Weisel who said, “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

We must also have faith that most people are good, or aspire to be good. We need more than ever to come together in our country to work toward building a society that is compassionate and caring, in which we stand up for one another. Rabbi David Rosenn, Avodah’s founder, in writing about this weekend’s events, wrote: “Building a just and compassionate society is a long game. Rev Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. played this long game. He told a group of SNCC members in 1964: ‘A big danger for us is the temptation to follow the people we are opposing. They call us names, so we call them names.'”  We must not follow in their footsteps, but instead, create the vision of what our country can be – a place where we are always striving for liberty and justice for all.

May we join together to build the world we envision.

Sincerely,

Cheryl Cook

Executive Director

Avodah

Avodah Joins 24 Faith Orgs Opposing Commission Intended to Restrict Voting Rights

Avodah joined 24 faith organizations in a letter to Congress, sent July 20, opposing the creation of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, a tax-payer funded initiative that aims to restrict voter rights.

In the letter, Avodah implores Congress not to fund the Commission, which exists solely to perpetuate unsubstantiated myths of widespread voter fraud and to lay the groundwork for restrictions on voting rights, during the appropriations process.

“We represent a diversity of faith traditions, but are united in our belief that our democracy works best when more people participate. Our traditions teach us to take responsibility for the well-being of our community by taking part in civic affairs. Moreover, we are taught to work for a society that safeguards the rights of all people – especially the sacred right to vote. People of every faith have worked tirelessly to expand the franchise, and we stand ready to protect that progress from efforts to suppress the vote under false pretenses.”

Several comprehensive studies have debunked the myth of voter fraud, finding only a handful of cases in recent history. “Looking at the facts makes clear fraud is vanishingly rare, and does not happen on a scale even close to that necessary to ‘rig’ an election,” according to the Brennan Center for Justice. While spreading false myths and requesting sensitive data, the commission has failed to recognize the greatest threat to the integrity of our elections: widespread restrictions that prevent eligible voters from casting their ballots.

“In these moments of division and strife, Congress must send the message that the voting booth is open to all eligible voters, regardless of race, class, faith or political affiliation. In your role in the appropriations process, we urge you to ensure that no funding is set aside for the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.”

We ask our representatives to refrain from directing taxpayer dollars to an operation that threatens a cornerstone of our democracy.

Click here to view the full letter to Congress.

Alumni Spotlight: Essie Shachar-Hill, Chicago 2015-2016

Essie Shachar-Hill took part in the Avodah Jewish Service Corps (Chicago 2015-16). During that time, Essie worked with Girls in the Game, an organization that works to empower middle- and high school girls through programming in sports, leadership, and health.  Essie is currently working at Keshet, a nonprofit that that works for the full equality and inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Jews in Jewish life as the organization’s full-time Boston Community Programs Intern while earning a graduate degree at the University of Michigan School of Social Work in the Jewish Communal Leadership program. In honor of June as Pride Month, Essie shared some experiences below.
What brought you to Avodah?

As my work in social justice spaces expanded in the latter years of college, I was looking for a more immersive experience post-graduation. A mentor of mine (with whom I worked on fostering a queer Jewish community on campus) was an Avodah alum and encouraged me to apply. At that time, I did not feel a connection between my Judaism and my activism, and was curious about a year-long experience that centered on this intersection.

Can you share a bit about your Corps Member experience?

A quote that comes to mind when I think of my experience in Avodah is “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” In my placement, I worked to empower my students, most of whom were girls of color from low-income households. I tried to teach them that they are powerful, important, and enough. When classmates teased them about girls being bad at sports, I showed them how to throw a football. When adults told them they were powerless as children, I supported them to make their voices heard in their school and community. I like to think that I was able to support and comfort my young clients who were continuously afflicted by the forces of racism, classism, sizeism, sexism, and ageism.

Essie worked to empower adolescent girls in Chicago while serving in the Avodah Jewish Service Corps.

Back in the office, I pushed my comfortable placement organization to be better. I challenged my coworkers to question their ableist language and pointed out racial microaggressions pervasive in the work culture. I pushed our coaches to examine why they made certain assumptions and tried to create a more trans-inclusive workplace.

In the Avodah bayit (house), I was often comfortable and my housemates, friends, and teachers lovingly afflicted me. They pushed me to be more patient, less judgmental, and more empathic. We empowered each other to be more open-minded and cooperative. In educational programming, I learned about prisons, systemic racism, poverty, immigration issues, police brutality, food injustice, housing discrimination, and my complacency in these interrelated oppressions.

Essie and Aran study talmud in the original Hebrew for the first time with Svara.

What impact did your Avodah experience have on your lifepath?

Avodah affirmed my growing suspicion that I would not be satisfied in a career that wasn’t a justice-oriented helping profession. Many of the people I met through Avodah and the activist communities in Chicago had MSWs (Master of Social Work), so I thought, “I guess I better get one of those!” Avodah also brought up a lot of questions for me about the way the Jewish community runs, so I decided to apply to the Jewish Communal Leadership Program (JCLP) through the University of Michigan’s School of Social Work, which is where I study now.

Do you have a favorite memory from your Avodah year?

I have a lot of great memories from the year with my wonderful cohort, but one that stands out is our first community Shabbat, which was Harry Potter themed. The planning committee really went above and beyond, creating a photo booth, decorating the house, and printing enlarged photos of each housemate from their b’nei mitzvah which everyone signed. I led the Shabbat service before dinner and had a ball integrating bits of the wizarding world into the service.  

Essie jams during the fall retreat. 

What led you to Keshet?

I have been a long-time admirer of Keshet’s work from afar. I think it was as early as my interview for JCLP that Karla Goldman, the director of the program, suggested an internship at Keshet, for which she is a board member. I enjoy working in identity-centered spaces, and Keshet focuses on the intersection of two of my salient marginalized identities.  

What challenges do you see members of the LGBTQ community continuing to face and what motivates your work?

A lot of people think that because LGBTQ people can now get married in the U.S., we’re all set in terms of equality. But it doesn’t matter if queer people can get married if we get fired from our jobs, can’t access healthcare, suffer disproportionately from mental illness, or are shot down in the street. Personally, in terms of things I need to live a healthy and productive life, marriage is pretty far down on the list.

Queer and trans people face additional barriers to accessing health insurance and healthcare. Even when they have access to healthcare, there’s no guarantee that providers are knowledgeable about or sensitive to LGBTQ issues. (The last two doctors I have seen were flummoxed by my simple response of “no” to the question “is your partner a man or a woman,” made assumptions up the wazoo about my identities and personal practices, and provided downright incorrect information related to queer sexual health.)

Trans and nonbinary people continue to face discrimination in all areas of life, from employment to housing to simply using public bathrooms. In most of the country, it is legal to be fired on the basis of “gender identity” (i.e., gender) or sexuality. In 2016, 22 trans people were murdered, most of whom were trans women of color.

Queer and trans youth are particularly vulnerable. Forty percent of homeless youth are LGBTQ. Queer and trans youth who are rejected by their families are eight times more likely to attempt suicide, more than three times more likely to use drugs, and more than three times as likely to be at high risk for contracting HIV and other STIs as compared to their straight/cis counterparts. Another risk for queer youth is teen pregnancy. Surprisingly, queer youth are more likely to experience teen pregnancy than their straight peers. Part of this is a result of cis/hetro-centric sex education in schools.

Assuming we make it past our teens, it’s often not smooth-sailing for queer/trans adults either. Same-sex couples often face discrimination in the adoption process. In Texas, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would allow agencies receiving state funding to deny the placement of children (through adoption or foster care) with queer parents, trans parents, atheists, interfaith couples, or anyone the agency disapproves of “on religious grounds.”

Post-election has been a particularly hard time for queer and trans folks. The LGBTQ rights page of the White House website disappeared on inauguration day, and we will not be included in the next census. (Contrary to many angry Facebook posts, we were not erased from the census. We have never been counted. Meaning we have never counted.)

Essie marches with Keshet at the 2017 Boston Pride Parade to support LGBTQ rights.

How did Avodah influence your understanding and pursuit of social justice, specifically the rights of LGBTQ individuals?

A Rabbi once told me that there is no single issue on which every Jew will agree. God, Israel, ritual, identity—every Jew will never be aligned on these issues or any other issue. In Avodah, I learned (and continue to experience) that there is no one Jewish community. On certain issues we will join with fellow Jews and on others we will disassociate, hashtagging “not my Judaism.” The opinions and beliefs of the Jewish community are as varied and nuanced as the people who hold them. In Avodah, I grappled with how a community can lift up this diversity and celebrate disagreement without rejecting people from the community and turning inward on itself.

Likewise, there is no one gay community. At the Boston Pride parade last weekend, over 300 groups marched, each representing a different contingent of the LGBTQ and ally communities. There were Jewish queer groups, Christian queer groups, senior LGBT people, queer veterans, gay dads, etc. Each of these communities has its own beliefs, and even within these specific groups there is dissent and diversity. Here at Keshet, we may serve primarily LGBTQ Jews, but again, even that is not a unified, fully-representative categorization.

Avodah showed me the complexities of causes and various communities, and I’m excited to be at Keshet where I can work in a space that’s more specific than “the Jewish community” or “the queer community.” And while there is comfort and safety in the specificity of intersectional spaces, I’m also learning about the dangers of siloing and the contexts in which unity and isolation are most healing.

Chicago Avodah at their drag-themed Purim party, March 2016.

How are you still connected to/involved with Avodah?

The friendships and lessons Essie gained in Avodah will last a lifetime.

I’m still very much in touch with my housemates, many of whom I have visited/hosted in the year since Avodah. I go to alumni events when I’m in Chicago. I have also made some connections with alumni all over the country. (Thanks, alumni listserv!)

Avodah Named ‘One of the Best’ Nonprofits by the Catalogue for Philanthropy

 

WASHINGTON, DC — June 12, 2017 — After a careful vetting process, the Catalogue for Philanthropy: Greater Washington has selected Avodah to be part of the Class of 2017-18.  Avodah has undergone an extensive review process, and has met the Catalogue’s high standards. Potential donors can be confident that the nonprofits in the Catalogue are worthy of their support.  Avodah’s mission is to strengthen the Jewish community’s fight against the causes and effects of poverty in the United States. We do this by engaging participants in service and community building that inspire them to become lifelong leaders for social change whose work for justice is rooted in and nourished by Jewish values..

This year the Catalogue celebrates its 15th anniversary: since its inception it has raised $38 million for nonprofits in the region. It also offers trainings, neighborhood-based opportunities for collaboration, and a speakers series for individuals who want to learn about and engage with the needs, challenges, and accomplishments of our shared community.

Reviewers helped select 76 charities to feature in the print edition, 34 of which are new to the Catalogue this year.

“People want to know where to give and they need trusted information. Based on our in-depth review, we believe that Avodah is one of the best community-based nonprofits in the region,” said Barbara Harman, founder and president of the Catalogue for Philanthropy.

“Our selection in the Catalogue for Philanthropy solidifies Avodah’s position as a trusted nonprofit, committed to social change,” said Jill Hertzler, Avodah DC Community Director. “We are thrilled to be a part of the amazing 2017 cohort.”

The Catalogue believes in the power of small nonprofits to spark big change.  As the only locally-focused guide to giving, its goal is to create visibility for the best community-based charities, fuel their growth with philanthropic dollars, and create a movement for social good in the greater Washington region. The Catalogue charges no fees; it raises funds separately to support its work.

 

MEDIA CONTACTS

Avodah:
Amanda Lindner
[email protected]
646-863-1550

Catalogue for Philanthropy:
Adam Shapiro
[email protected]
202-427-3603

 

Revelation and Revolution on Shavuot

 

Shavuot–the holiday marking the giving of the Torah on Sinai — begins Tuesday night. Over the past 50 days, we’ve been counting the weeks in Avodah’s Revelation and Revolution Omer project and growing in strength and compassion to refuel our work in the world.

The culmination of our counting the Omer doesn’t just mark our receiving of the Torah; it is a celebration of learning and a commitment to take part in the Jewish wisdom and values we cherish.

In the spirit of enlightenment, members of the Avodah community will be leading tikkuns – study sessions – in cities across the country, featuring traditional Jewish and contemporary social justice texts and discussion questions to foster learning during this time of revelation. Jewish wisdom has much that can illuminate the conversation about America’s sometimes difficult challenges.

Below is a taste of one of Avodah’s tikkun sessions, featuring a short excerpt. We hope you enjoy sharing this with family and friends, or reading on your own.

Wishing you a joyous Shavuot! Chag Sameach from all of us at Avodah.

 

Deuteronomy 24:14-18.  For the Hebrew and English together, click here.

You should not abuse a needy and destitute laborer, whether a fellow countryman or a stranger in one of the communities of your land. You must pay him his wages on the same day, before the sun sets, for he is needy and urgently depends on it; else he will cry to God against you and you will incur guilt. Parents shall not be put to death for children, nor children be put to death for parents: a person shall be put to death only for his own crime. You shall not subvert the rights of the stranger or the fatherless; you shall not take a widow’s garment in pawn. Remember that you were a slave in Egypt and that God your God redeemed you from there; therefore do I enjoin you to observe this commandment.

 

  • In what ways are we instructed to treat poor people in this text?
  • What are the major themes of this text? What is repeated? What is emphasized?
  • The stranger/immigrant, the fatherless, and the widow are often grouped together in Torah as a special categories of persons needing protection. What do these three categories have in common? What might this tell us about gender and poverty in this historical social context? About poverty and national identity?
  • What kind of interventions are the text calling for here? What kinds of changes does it demand and what kinds of changes does it not demand? How is the position of women in poverty in this social-historical context left changed and unchanged by these laws?
  • What thoughts and feelings come up for you when you read this text?
To learn more about bringing Avodah’s teaching to your community, please contact Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg at  [email protected]

We Can’t Afford Trump’s Proposed Budget Cuts

President Trump announced his proposed federal budget for 2018 this week, and the news is staggering. The spending plan aims to slash $274 billion over ten years from antipoverty programs including food stamps, Medicaid, federal student loans, job training, and programs such as Meals on Wheels — all while giving large tax cuts to the wealthiest and building a wall on our southern border. This paints a stark picture for our nation’s priorities.

You see, budgets are more than spreadsheets and dollar signs. They are value statements that reflect the principles we uphold. This new budget hurts the sick and elderly, blocks access to higher education and takes away basic healthcare for the working class. This budget says to the 46 million Americans living in poverty, you do not matter.  You are not a priority for our country.  This does not reflect our values as Americans or as Jews.

As Americans, we believe in the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. As Jews, we are taught to care for the poor and vulnerable, to do whatever is in our means to prevent suffering. If we truly value these ideals, health insurance would be a right and not a luxury reserved for the privileged. Parents wouldn’t have to fear that they won’t be able to afford medicine or a doctor visit for their child. Our elderly wouldn’t worry where their next meal would come from.

As the Executive Director of Avodah, I’m deeply concerned. We know that these disastrous cuts to health care coverage, public assistance programs and the evisceration of antipoverty organizations will pull the rug out from working families and ultimately throw more people into poverty.

Avodah’s core mission is to strengthen the Jewish community’s fight against both causes and effects of poverty in America. These potential cuts target the most vulnerable people in our society; it’s urgent that we put our Jewish values into action. I urge you to join us and oppose this administration’s proposed cuts to Medicaid, food assistance, and crucial antipoverty programs. We have the power to  preserve  the wellbeing  of millions of Americans and build the kind of society we wish to see in the world.

Find your representatives here, or call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 to urge them to oppose the President’s budget proposal. And if you have a personal story of surviving on food stamps, growing up on Medicaid, or using other safety net programs in our country, please share them when you call. Join the conversation and share your experiences on our Facebook page here. Your stories can make a big difference.

What impact would cuts to food stamps, Medicaid or other safety net programs have on your life? Leave your stories in the comments below

 

Avodah strengthens the Jewish community’s fight against the causes and effects of poverty in the United States. We do this by engaging participants in service and community building that inspire them to become lifelong leaders for social change whose work for justice is rooted in and nourished by Jewish values.