Learning in the Jewish Service Corps

Our programming for the Service Corps falls into four general categories. These central topics create a foundation upon which to grow as lifelong agents for social change whose work for justice is rooted in and nourished by Jewish values.

Analysis and Tools for Combating Poverty

These topics include: anti-oppression frameworks and training, intersections between poverty and various identity groups, approaches to identifying the causes and effects of poverty, examining the benefits and challenges of various methods for social change, and building skills for long term anti-poverty work.

Building Community

These sessions explore the tools needed for building a justice-oriented, intentional community, including: conflict resolution, maintaining healthy relationships, awareness of power dynamics, having difficult conversations, strategies for group decision-making, and creating mutual accountability around community norms and goals.

Intersections of Judaism and Social Justice

These topics include: Shabbat as a radical practice, historical Jewish involvement in social justice movements like civil rights and labor rights, the current Jewish institutional landscape and social justice community, the social justice themes or rituals in various Jewish holidays, and the ways in which Jewish organizing groups are connecting to current political and social issues.

Being On Point

A significant learning thread in Avodah is about better understanding your best self and pushing yourself on what that can be. What does it take to be a consistent contributor to and participant in communities and movements working for justice? What does it look like to be skilled and intentional in your personal and professional life, whether you’re stepping up as a leader or actively supporting others’ leadership?

This last learning category is the one where we’ll be bringing together the threads from the other three categories and putting them into practice. Those will include skill-building workshops, leadership roles within your cohort, opportunities to increase Avodah’s impact, mentoring, self-assessment and reflection, and learning how to work and live at this level sustainably long-term.

Types of Programs

  • Limmud (learning): Limmud will take place 2-4 times a month. These programs will have a range of formats, including group discussions, text study, speakers, visits to other organizations, leadership team meetings, and peer mentoring. Some of these programs will be on Tuesday or Thursday evenings, with 1-2 daytime workshops per month as well.
  • Kehila (community) Care Night: Most months will also have one of these, an evening that your community spends together in a way that nourishes you. These might include opportunities for activities that help with your physical or emotional well-being, social gatherings, outings to enriching local events, or chances to explore particular areas of group-building.
  • Community Shabbats: Once a month, your cohort will celebrate a part or all of Shabbat together. The ritual/practices/programs for each Shabbat will vary and reflect the range of diverse Jewish identities within your group and the many paths of engagement within Jewish life, tradition, and culture.
  • Holiday Programs: Throughout the year, there will be opportunities for you to celebrate Jewish holidays together (sometimes with our larger Avodah-and-friends community) and explore the possible themes and ideas for bringing a social justice perspective to Jewish practice.
  • Issue Salons or Site Visits: These programs explore particular issues (for example, housing or immigration or the criminal justice system) through the lens of one or several placement organizations where your fellow Corps Members work. In some cities, Corps Members host these individually as site visits. In other cities, you’ll be grouped together by issue area to plan and host these workshops together.
  • Retreats: There will be one weekend-long retreat in the fall and one at the close of the year. The fall retreat will focus on conflict resolution skills, while the closing retreat will focus on wrapping up the Avodah year.
  • Friends-of-Avodah Opportunities: In addition to the Limmud and Community programs each month, there will be other optional opportunities to spend time with local community leaders, whether at Shabbat events at synagogues, dinners at the bayit, or special access to important community events.