Educational Stories

2021-2022 Chicago Justice Fellows

More Educational stories

Bamidbar 5781

By Rabbi Lauren Tuchman This week, we begin the fourth book of the Torah, Sefer Bamidbar. In Hebrew, bamidbar means wilderness or desert. In English, the title Numbers derives from the multiple censuses taken throughout the book. Bamidbar is a much more apt title for...

A Moment of Accountability in the Police Killing of George Floyd

  Yesterday’s full conviction of Officer Derek Chauvin represents a collective exhale. A breath we have been holding as a nation for three weeks (and for many far longer) and a reminder of the breath George Floyd was denied as he cried out, “I can’t...

Torah Teachings on Purity Rituals in the Time of COVID-19

By Rabbi Lauren Tuchman This week’s parsha, Tazria-Metsora is both incredibly timely and deeply complex. Now that the Kohenim have been ordained, their functions are beginning to be outlined. The Book of Leviticus is arguably the Torah’s most complex and...

From the desk of the CEO: One year of COVID-19

I write this note sitting at my dining room table in Brooklyn, NY, with my children attending school via video in the next room. It’s unbelievable that it’s been a year since the pandemic hit.  My last time on a plane was visiting our Chicago site last February. I sat...

Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month

The following remarks were given by Rabbi Lauren Tuchman, Avodah’s Ruach Avodah Spiritual Advisor, on February 3, 2021/22 Shvat, 5781 at the #JDAM (Jewish Disability Awareness Month) kickoff, hosted by Jewish Federations of North America. I would like to begin...

A Snapshot of What’s Ahead for Avodah in 2021

Our mission at Avodah is to develop lifelong social justice leaders who inspire and strengthen the Jewish community’s work toward a more just and equitable world. While 2020 was filled with incredible challenges that required us all to make major adjustments, we still...

Is Lying Ever Justified? Devar Torah for Parashat Toledot

Rabbi Aryeh Bernstein Avodah, 5781 It seems intuitive that truthfulness should be paramount in religious life and in fact, the Torah teaches bluntly in the civil code, “From a lying word stay far away” (Exodus/Sh’mot 23:7). This mitzvah is directed to judges; in our...

Overcoming Voting Barriers With a Focus on Gen Z

  Sylvia Finger and Jill Israel were honored at Avodah’s 2020 Annual Partners in Justice event in New Orleans for their efforts to organize and register more than 9,000 new voters in just two years through their work with the Engaging New Voices &...

Torah as Poetry – a D’var Torah (Deuteronomy 29:9-31:30)

  By Rabbi Aryeh Bernstein, National Jewish Educator for Avodah This week, we read two short Torah portions. (Some portions are flexible and sometimes go solo and sometimes team up, depending on calendar features, such as if a holiday fell on Shabbat, pushing a...

Black Lives Matter – Commitment to Action

  Black Lives Matter.  We join a growing chorus of individuals, organizations, and institutions proclaiming this statement to affirm the dignity of Black lives and call for an end to structural racism. More importantly, while we know that a statement is powerful,...

In Memory of George Floyd

To our Avodah community, Last week, George Floyd died under the knee of a police officer, gasping that he couldn’t breathe. It is heartbreaking that just a few years after Eric Garner died with these same words, we are back in this place. So many lives gone. So...

Revelation, Revolution and Relationships on Shavuot

  We are about to enter Shavuot, marking the Israelites’ gathering at Mount Sinai to receive the Torah. At this point in the Israelites’ story, they have just undergone a seismic shift out of slavery, and their journey begins to intertwine revolution with...

An Update on Avodah’s Racial Justice Work

In Fall 2016, Avodah convened a Racial Justice Task Force comprised of staff, alumni, Board and Advisory Council members with the goal of strengthening Avodah’s racial justice work, both internally and externally. The Task Force had several recommendations that were...

My Family’s Refugee Story by CEO Cheryl Cook

During Sukkot, one of the most important actions we are called upon to take is to welcome strangers and offer shelter to guests in our sukkah. Amidst the greatest refugee crisis in recorded history, the need for shelter and protection has never been more clear. And...

Standing With Refugees in 5780

During the High Holidays – the Days of Awe – we take a moment to reflect on both ourselves and the shared history of the Jewish people. Through T’shuvah – deep prayer and returning – we have the chance to renew and recommit ourselves to Tzedek...