Transformative Teshuvah

A guide for your Jewish justice practice 365 days a year from the Avodah Institute for Social Change

Introduction by Sarra Alpert, Director, Avodah Institute for Social Change, Elul 5783 (August 2023)

At Avodah, we believe that a commitment to justice is essential to Jewish life, with our justice values being integral to our individual and communal self-reflection.

How are we doing at building a world grounded in equity, accountability and lovingkindness? Where are we falling short? What issues are we turning away from? What needs to change? How can we do better?

Since the High Holidays provide a time to ask exactly those questions, we created this resource to help with that.

Some of these resources speak to particular elements of these past several years: escalated attacks on trans rights, regressive restrictions on reproductive rights, the Covid-19 pandemic, increased attention to racial justice uprisings, the practice of the shmita year. But all of the resources here (even those more specific ones) emerge from core values of Jewish life and practice: our responsibility to care for each other, our commitment to resisting injustice, our faith in our ongoing work of building a better world. 

The topics addressed in these various resources are all deeply connected, from how they emerge to how we can do better. We continue to see how urgently all of these interrelated injustices and violences require our attention. We know that these issues deserve a spotlight in the High Holidays’ yearly recommitment to ourselves and our values. 

Our tradition provides an ideal opportunity each year for exactly this kind of personal and communal work on our accountability and growth, and this resource is offered as a way to take advantage of this period of extended reflection. You might decide to engage with one piece of learning each day in the weeks leading up to and through the High Holiday period or delve deeply into a few of these learnings over the holidays themselves. For those of you who are educators, we hope you’ll incorporate these resources into your teaching opportunities over this High Holiday season.

However you explore this, we hope it will offer a pathway for deep introspection, additional learning, and ways to orient ourselves towards sustained and effective engagement in work for justice.

Other excellent High Holiday content from our partners:

Thank you to our generous collaborators for their support in creating this resource:


Special thanks to Rabbi Aryeh Bernstein for co-editing

Sarra Alpert

Rabbi Aryeh Bernstein

Jonah Canner

Imani Romney-Rosa Chapman

Rabbi Nate DeGroot

Anna Dubey, Raphaela Gold, Sophie Raskin & Michael Pincus

Koach Baruch Frazier

Noah Gibbons-Shapiro and Hayden

Rabbi Gabe Greenberg

Beth Huppin

Inside Out Wisdom and Action Project, Hannah Roodman & Yehudah Webster

Rebecca Katz

Rabbi Rory Katz

Alana Krivo-Kaufman

Rabbi Miriam Liebman

Jamie Margolin

Shahanna McKinney-Baldon

Ruth Messinger

Not Free to Desist

Kendell Pinkney, S’manga Frank & Avi Amon

Rabbi Aaron Portman

Hila Ratzabi

Rabbi Jennie Rosenn

Caroline Rothstein

Melissa Shaw

Rachel Sumekh

Rabbi Alana Suskin

Akiko Yonekawa


Ritualwell logo
Reconstructing Judaism logo
Dayenu logo
Hazon logo
Mitsui Collective logo
IOWA Project logo
Not Free to Desist Logo
JFREJ logo
Uri L'Tzedek logo
Aytzim logo
URJ Logo
RAC logo
Moving Traditions logo
RAC logo
Keshet Logo