The Jewish Service Corps

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a year in service mean?

We believe in the importance of being proximate, of working on the ground level to serve with the people in our nation most affected by systemic social and economic injustice. For some Corps Members, this is a continuation of experiences they have already had on the ground, both experiencing and fighting against poverty. For many other Corps Members, participating in a year of service is an opportunity to put different types of privileges, especially economic privilege, into action by contributing to the powerful work of our placement organizations. A year of service is an opportunity to have your basic needs covered while volunteering your time to invest deeply in community work and your own personal and professional growth as an advocate for social justice.

What makes Avodah stand out as a service year?

At Avodah, a service year is not just a gap year squeezed in between college and your next steps – it’s an entry point to lifelong engagement in movements for social and economic justice. Our curriculum is designed to not only support your day-to-day work at your placement, but to help you locate it in a wider systemic analysis, connecting your placement’s work to other issues of poverty in your city and to root causes of oppression. You’ll interrogate different methods of social change and build a diverse set of skills in order to help you locate how you can contribute to the fight against poverty for the long haul. Over 90% of our alumni stay directly in social justice work after the year is over and many stay involved in the active Avodah alumni community, continuing to access opportunities for activism and professional development that further their work in the field. Our mission at Avodah is not to parachute Corps Members into marginalized communities for a year – it’s to ground our Corps Members’ work for social justice in relationship and community, while setting them up to engage in social justice work critically, effectively, and sustainably.

How challenging is a year in Avodah?

At Avodah, we believe that there is value in the growth that comes from productive discomfort. In many ways, your Avodah year is meant to challenge you! Through your placement, you’ll be providing direct service to members of marginalized communities experiencing poverty and/or trauma. These positions are inherently challenging – as all social justice work is. But by serving with Avodah, you enter into this work with a dedicated support system (including your Program Director,  other members of your cohort, and alumni) as well as programming that will help you understand your work and keep it sustainable. We’re committed to providing the analysis, tools, Jewish social justice insights, and communal networks that can help keep emerging social justice leaders in this work for the long haul. This programming can also be a place of productive discomfort, asking you to confront essential and complicated questions of power, privilege, positionality, identity, oppression, spirituality and liberation.  Your Avodah staff, outside facilitators and educators, and fellow Corps Members will be there to hold the space and foster powerful conversation across difference.

Finally,  Corps Members live together in an intentional, pluralistic community, which requires negotiation and conflict resolution. Corps Members engage with a group of folks who hold a number of different views around politics, observance levels, and a range of perspectives on Jewish identity.  Like the program itself, pluralistic living can be challenging – and also immensely rewarding and sustaining. If you’re ready to engage in meaningful work and learning, and are excited about productive discomfort that will ignite your growth, then Avodah is the place for you!

Still have questions?

Our Recruitment team is here to help you through the application process and will be available every step of the way, from start to finish. We know that everyone’s background and needs are different, and they’re here to answer any questions you may have.