Redefining Leadership this Passover

Published Mar 28, 2018
Three Avodah Corps Members stand arm in arm together.

To our supporters and friends:

As we recount the story of our liberation under the leadership of Moses this Passover, there is one question ringing in my mind: what makes a great leader?

Avodah has been training young leaders for 20 years and one thing we’ve learned is that great leaders are those who have the vision to imagine a world in which today’s injustices are tomorrow’s history.Photo of a Corps Member coaching a little girl, two Corps Members rebuilding a home, and one other Corps Member stocking a food pantry. The text reads: Celebrating 20 Years of Jewish Leadership and Social Change.

In the Passover story, the Jewish people had little time to pack up and leave the only life they’d ever known. When Moses, our unlikely hero, gained the courage to demand freedom for the Jewish people, there was no time think twice, properly prepare, or even allow their bread to rise for the long exodus ahead. And yet, when Moses’s sister, Miriam, knew freedom was on the horizon, she called on the women to bring their instruments. Taking the time to gather timbrels might have seemed trivial when we had just moments to flee, but like Moses, Miriam was also a great leader. She had the vision to imagine that the Jewish people would not only reach a new land, but sing and dance in it, and pass those traditions on to new generations. She imagined a world beyond slavery.

At Avodah, we envision a world beyond all forms of oppression. To achieve this, our participants don’t just step up, they step in. They gain the analysis and skills necessary to understand systemic injustice and learn how to become allies with other communities. They serve as school coaches, organizers, domestic violence responders, housing advocates, immigration specialists, and more to break the chains of discrimination, white supremacy, violence, antisemitism, sexism, xenophobia, and all forms of injustice.

Passover is about liberation, yes, but it is also about illumination and envisioning a brighter world. That is why this Passover, we are proud to launch our 20th Anniversary “Lighting the Way” campaign.

We know these current times can feel dark, but Avodah is growing stronger and glowing brighter than ever. Over these 20 years, we have directly impacted the lives of more 700,000 individuals and families and engaged tens of thousands of people in the work for social change. Together, all of us, secular and observant, Ashkenazi, Mizrahi, Sephardi, white Jews and Jews of color, straight and queer, trans- and cis-gendered, politically center and left leaning, economically advantaged and disadvantaged, are working to break down the systems and structures that are at the root causes of all forms of oppression and shine light on the world we wish to see.

Please join us in “Lighting the Way” for a brighter future as we honor our supporters, partners, participants and friends this year at our Partners in Justice events this spring. Save the Date for an event near you:

  • Chicago: May 23, 6:30 pm at Chicago Teachers Union
  • New Orleans: May 17, 6:30 pm at Martin Wine Cellar Uptown
  • New York: May 22, 6:30 pm at the Museum of the City of New York
  • Washington, DC: May 17, 6:30 pm at the Washington Hebrew Congregation

We also invite you to make a donation in honor of someone who helped light your way as we celebrate 20 years of Jewish social justice leadership.

Wishing you a happy, healthy Passover.
Chag sameach,

Cheryl Cook,

Executive Director, Avodah

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