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Transforming the culture of Jewish organizational life

How can Jewish institutions take on deep, sustainable,

accountable, and effective work for justice?

The Avodah Institute for Social Change helps Jewish organizations center tzedek (justice) as fundamental to Jewish life. There is a clear need and desire for Jewish communal spaces to be responsive to current events, engaged in challenging conversations, and part of broader movements for social change, all of which has only been exacerbated in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, movements for racial justice, and urgent calls for more diverse, equitable, and inclusive communities. After 23 years of leading such programming for young Jewish changemakers, the Institute will provide powerful resources and guidance to Jewish communal leaders to make authentic structural changes within organizations, and ultimately in our communities at large. Learn more about the Institute’s programming and justice resources below.

In 1998, nine young volunteers moved into Avodah’s first Service Corps bayit (home) in New York City. Since then, the Service Corps has grown to five cities and more than 11,000 participants.

In 2015, we launched the Avodah Justice Fellowship, which now operates in Chicago and Kansas City, bringing justice education to more than 300 young Jewish professionals in social change fields.

In 2016, Avodah began making our Jewish social justice expertise available to the wider community through educational resources, workshops, speaker events, and consulting. By 2018, thousands of individuals and organizations were utilizing Avodah’s resources and materials.

In 2020, there was a strong call for justice work. We began imagining and designing what structural change across Jewish organizations could look like. In 2022, we launched the Avodah Institute for Social Change to help organizations make those lasting transformations.

Workshops

Facilitated community conversations about racial justice, equity, antisemitism, cross-issue movement building, allyship, and other social issues through a uniquely Jewish lens, in partnership with Jewish communal institutions. Here, learners of all kinds can ask big questions about their Jewish values and identities, and gain the skills, tools, and spiritual nourishment needed for translating theory into practice. 

Interested in hosting a workshop or other program in your community? Contact us to set up an intake meeting.

Cohorts

Community-based professional development intensives for senior and mid-career Jewish communal leaders seeking guidance in assessing personal and organizational biases and learning curves, through a Jewish lens and in community with other Jews. Cohort components will include retreats, training and workshops, peer mentoring structures, long-term advising and support from faculty, and various forms of ongoing virtual community.

Personal Leadership Cohorts: These cohorts will be organized by field (i.e. Jewish camp staff), by location (either city or region), and by role (i.e. development professionals). In addition to the core curriculum, cohort participants will work towards an individualized goal to measurably increase their ability to lead justly. 

Organizational Change Cohorts: These cohorts will be open to graduates of the Personal Leadership Cohorts, as well as graduates of other justice learning experiences. Organizations will apply with a specific justice project in mind and will receive dedicated consulting support, coaching, and training towards enacting sustained and effective justice changes and engagements.

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Digital Resources

At Avodah, we believe that Jewish leaders have the power to help change our country for the better. The following resources are available to individuals, synagogues, Hillels, camps, day schools, and other Jewish institutions to help deepen their approach to social and economic justice. Please see below for our digital resource offerings.

Speak Torah to Power Video Series

“Speak Torah to Power” is a groundbreaking speaker series that connects today’s most pressing social justice issues with Jewish wisdom to guide us in doing transformative work in the world.

Racial Justice Guide

Avodah’s Racial Justice Guide and accompanying workshops are intended to be a resource for Jewish organizations. It has been written for all stages of leadership, as racial justice and inclusion are everyone’s responsibilities. 

Transformative Teshuvah

Transformative Teshuvah from the Avodah Institute for Social Change contains a series of text studies, tools for reflection, artistic interpretations, and activities providing different pathways to explore the question: How do we turn towards change?

Tikkun Olam: Our Turn

Tikkun Olam: Our Turn was born out of a desire to deepen the mitzvah project experience and provide better context and mentoring for our communities’ tweens and teens as they stood on the threshold of adulthood in our communal institutions.

 Advocacy & Partnerships

Avodah is a proud sponsor and supporter of many of the most pressing social justice issues of our time. We work with communities on the grassroots level, building relationships of solidarity alongside others to build a more just and equitable world.

Rabbinic Reflections

Each week, Avodah’s spiritual advisors offer insights on the weekly portion of the Torah. Through Jewish tradition and text, spiritual educators lend a series of thought-provoking commentary and Jewish wisdom on today’s most urgent events and issues.

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Institute Staff & Leadership

Our incredible staff and leadership team are experts in Jewish justice,
with years of experience as Jewish educators and leaders.

Meet the Institute Team >>

Meet the Members of the HillelU Cohort >>

Sarra Alpert

Director, Avodah Institute for Social Change

Sarra Alpert helps to build activist communities that support and challenge each other in anti-oppressive, transformative social justice movement-building in Jewish communal spaces and beyond.

Alison Rollman

Program Associate, Avodah Institute for Social Change

Alison Rollman previously worked as an administrator at Third Root Community Health Center and as a food and housing justice fellow with Repair the World Brooklyn.

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The Avodah Institute for Social Change’s newsletter, The Gathering, is a monthly round-up of Jewish social justice commentary, news, and thought leadership.