At Avodah, we believe that Jewish leaders have the power to help change our country for the better. With more than 20 years of Jewish social justice leadership under our organizational belt, we’ve got a lot of experience – and we love to share it. We work with synagogues, Hillels, camps, day schools, and other Jewish institutions to deepen their approach to social and economic justice through workshops, teen curricula, video series, and consulting. 

 

Speak Torah to Power

Speak Torah to Power is a transformational speaker series and educational curriculum, in which diverse Jewish educators from around the country address the most pressing issues of our time to offer us the Jewish thinking most needed in today’s world. Learn more.

 

Racial Justice Guide

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

Tikkun Olam: Our Turn

Tikkun Olam: Our Turn was born out of a desire to deepen the ‘mitzvah project” experience at b’nai mitzvah time—to provide better context and mentoring for our communities’ young adults as they stood on the threshold of adulthood in our communal institutions. Learn more. 

 

11 Ways to Stay in the Justice Game

Working for social change can sometimes feel hard and exhausting- it takes time to have an impact, and progress doesn’t always happen in a straight line. Read the eleven ways of thinking about the work. 

 

Passover and Haggadot

Avodah has collected the following Haggadot and Passover resources from our partners and allies in our social justice work. Learn more.

 

Racial Justice

The Jewish community is stronger and more authentically rooted in justice when everyone has an equal seat at the table. This moment calls us to do the best, most authentic, and most effective work for justice that we can. We know that there are many kinds of injustice in our world, including racism, antisemitism, and white supremacy. To do our part in dismantling these systems of oppression and building a better, more just world, we need to understand how they affect each other, and we must do true coalition building. Avodah’s Racial Justice Guide is intended to be a resource for Jewish nonprofit organizations. It has been written for all stages of leadership, as racial justice and inclusion are everyone’s responsibilities. In each section, we share an example of how Avodah worked through this stage of our process, and resources for how your organization might put this into practice. You can view our interactive Racial Justice Guide here and the materials are also available to download as a PDF format. If you would like Avodah to teach a workshop to your community, you can view our workshop menu here

 

Conferences & Panels

Avodah’s staff of seasoned educators and organizers are available for consulting and training at your local Jewish institution. We bring individual consultation, facilitated talks, and workshops to conferences, organizations, and institutions to foster learning around today’s social justice issues, all through a Jewish lens. Contact Sarra Alpert at [email protected] to learn more.

Strengthening Racial Justice in the Kansas City Jewish Community  Panelists: Gavriela Geller, Avodah alum & Executive Director, JCRC/AJC Kansas City; Hilary Singer, Executive Director, Jewish Vocation Service; Rabbi Doug Alpert, Congregation Kol Ami; Jancyn Appel, member of the Kansas City Jewish community Moderated by: Nate Looney, Manager of Racial Justice Initiatives, Avodah

Never Again: Social Justice, Activism & Using Your Voice to Speak Truth to Power Avodah’s CEO, Cheryl Cook, joins other Jewish women to discuss the call to social justice and activism that Judaism demands during the third Women of Faith Power Summit.

Being Jewish in America: The Privilege and Price of Whiteness Panelists: Yavilah McCoy, CEO, DIMENSIONS Inc. and Cheryl Cook, CEO, Avodah Moderated by: Bill Robinson, Executive Director, Na’aleh Hosted by: Na’aleh: The Hub for Leadership Learning (Oct 2020)

Racial Justice and the Changing Face of American Jewry Panelists: Nate Looney, Manager of Racial Justice Initiatives, Avodah; April Baskin, CEO, Joyous Justice; Simone Steinbach Kgnego, Author of “The Extraordinay, Unordinary You”; Rori Picker Neiss, Executive Director, JCRC; David Heller, Chair of the Board, Jewish Cleveland; Margaret Mitchell, President & CEO, YWCA Greater Cleveland Moderated by: Rabbi Isaiah Rothstein, JFNA’s Rabbinic Scholar and Public Affairs Advisor  Hosted by: Jewish Federations of North America

Justice and Redemption: A Discussion of Just Mercy Panelists: Nate Looney, Manager of Racial Justice Initiatives, Avodah; Rabbi Ora Nitkin-Kaner, Ann Arbor Reconstructionist Congregation; Maggie Yates, Avodah Alum & Administrator, Regional Law and Justice Department, Spokane Washington Moderated by: Cheryl Cook, CEO, Avodah Hosted by: HUC College Commons Book Club

 

Speak Torah 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. In this series, six leading Jewish educators from across the United States explore the connection between activism, service, spirituality, community, Jewish wisdom and the events of our day. More than 15,000 people have already tuned in to Speak Torah to Power.

Discussion Guides: Visit avodah.net/speaktorahtopower to learn more about the speakers and download our free discussion guides to support your communities in exploring these issues and questions together.

Webinars and Online Learning

Avodah created various programs for our community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to foster learning, community building, and discussion through virtual connection. Click here to view our offerings.

Avodah’s Racial Justice Workshops

To invite us to teach a racial justice workshop to your community, view our workshop menu here. 

Devar Torah

You Must Testify, but if You Snitch, You’re Excommunicated — D’var Torah, Parashat VaYikra

Mirrors in the Mishkan: Centering the Tools of the Marginalized — D’var Torah, Parashat VaYakhel-Pekudei

On Learning, Loss, and Freedom: D’var Torah for Parashat Ki Tissa

A Labor Economy of Freshness and Wealth: The Meaning of the Lechem Panim — D’var Torah for Parashat Teruma

Economic Exploitation is Blasphemy: D’var Torah for Parashat Mishpatim

Shabbat: Radical Release from Control and Domination — D’var Torah for Parashat Yitro

The Discipline and Practice that Enable Spontaneous Joy: Parashat BeShallach (Shabbat Shira, the Shabbat of Song)

Most of Us Didn’t Make it Out: The Dark Loneliness of Freedom Fighting — D’var Torah for Parashat Bo

Speaking, Naming, and Celebrating the Component Parts of Liberation: D’var Torah for Parashat VaEira

The Seeding of Slavery, The Making of Tyranny: A Folktale of the Politics of Oppression — D’var Torah for Parashat Sh’mot

There’s a Riot Goin’ On: Talking about Violence and Power — Devar Torah for Parashat VaYishlah

Is Lying Ever Justified? Devar Torah for Parashat Toledot

Yitzhak: The Dispossessed Building Solidarity with the Dispossessed Devar Torah for Parashat Hayei Sarah

Lamenting Exile with a Question: Where Are You? A Devar Torah for Parashat Bereishit

Torah as Poetry – a D’var Torah (Deuteronomy 29:9-31:30)

Abraham’s Call as an Urgent Plea from a Burning Building – Devar Torah for Parashat Lekh-Lekha

Video Archive

We have signed on to the following letters of advocacy and co-sponsored the following events:

  • Dayenu’s Chutzpah Campaign – A campaign to share information on how to vote safely with climate concerned voters. Since the election the campaign has shifted to urge President-Elect Biden to take swift action on climate change. (Ongoing)
  • Worker’s Circle Letter re: Protect Our Courts Act – A NY State Act that would halt Immigrant Customs and Enforcement (ICE) actions in and around courthouses in New York State. (Sept 2020)
  • National Council of Jewish Women letters to urge the Senate to keep RBG’s seat open until inauguration (Sept and Oct 2020)
  • Anti-Defamation League Jewish COmmunal Statement Denouncing White Supremacy (Oct 2020)
  • Service Year Alliance’s letter to Presidential candidates about the importance of expanding national service (Oct 2020)
  • Lippman Kanfer Foundation’s Free and Fair Election Day Pledge – A coalition of Jewish organizations who committed to closing on Election Day to enable their staff to take part in ensuring a safe and fair election. (Nov 2020) 
  • National Council of Jewish Women EACH Woman Act letter to repeal the Hyde Amendment (which blocks the use of federal funds for abortions) (Nov 2020)
  • NY State Letter to urge the state legislature to pass elder parole and fair and timely parole acts this session. More info here. (Dec 2020)
  • Bend the Arc Jewish Geography for Good – By being part of this program, individuals can use an app and see which of their contacts are registered to vote in Georgia, and then reach out to them with the information they need to vote safely. (Dec 9, 2020)
  • Bend the Arc Hanukkah Celebration – An event to bring our community in this moment of on-going struggle and triumph. (Dec 17, 2020)
  • Phonebank to Georgia Voters of Color with the Worker’s Circle (Dec 22, 2020)
  • Letter to Governor Cuomo on NY State Prisons and Family Visitation (Dec 23, 2020)
  • Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan Cinematters Film Festival (Jan 2021)
  • The Fight Against White Supremacists (event with Integrity First for America and Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan) (Jan 2021)
  • We the People: An Interfaith Virtual Vigil for Democracy (Jan 2021)
  • NCJW and JCPA Jewish Organizational Sign on to HR, the For the People Act (Jan 2021)
  • Jewish Disability Advocacy Month through Jewish Federations of North America (Feb 2021)
  • The Equality Act – Legislation that would establish non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ Americans in key areas including employment, housing, education, and public spaces. We are part of a coalition of other Jewish organizations coordinated by Keshet who are supporting this bill. (Feb 2021)
  • Jewish and Interfaith Letters in Support of Kristen Clarke  for Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the US Department of Justice (DOJ). (Feb 2021)
  • Jewish Letter in support of Vanita Gupta for Associate Attorney General of DOJ (March 2021)
  • Digital Rally for Climate, Jobs, and Justice with Dayenu (March 2021)
  • Organizational letter to “Defund Hate,” calling for cuts to ICE and CBP’s funding through the appropriations process (March 2021)
  • NYC Mayoral Forum organized by JCC Manhattan and the Forward (March 2021)
  • From Bloody Sunday to Today: Fighting for the Right to Vote – Event organized by the Worker’s Circle to commemorate Bloody Sunday and advocate for voting rights. (March 2021)
  • New York is for all of Us – Pre-Passover event coordinated by the Worker’s Circle and the NYC Commission on Human Rights (March 2021)
  • Solidarity Statement on anti-Asian Violence (March 2021)
  • Jewish Communal Letter on Pathways to Citizenship (May 2021)
  • JCC Manhattan – Ranked Choice Voting program (May 2021)
  • Jews of Color Shabbaton (May 2021)
  • Live from the Frontlines of the Fight for Voting Rights: A Conversation with Journalist Ari Berman- Event organized by Workers Circle to inform and advocate about voting rights. (July 2021)
  • Letter organized by MAZON in support of House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern’s call for the Biden-Harris Administration to hold a White House Conference on Ending Hunger – bringing together policymakers, advocates, and those with lived experience of hunger together to create change. (July 2021)
  • National 9/11 Day of Service Coalition – signed on in July 2021
  • Letter in support of Myrna Pérez’s nomination to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (organized by NCJW) (July 2021)
  • Letter from religious organizations in support of access to comprehensive, affordable, compassionate, and equitable sexual and reproductive health care, including abortion care, and commending the Biden administration’s commitment to reproductive rights (organized by NCJW, Catholics for Choice, and Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice) (Aug 2021)
  • Webinar “A Journey of Faith: Joining Native Americans Protecting Climate, Water, and Treaty Rights” about hopeful resistance to Line 3” (organized by Jewish Earth Alliance) (Sept 2021)
  • Amicus brief detailing our support for abortion access and religious freedom grounded in our moral and faith values in response to Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization  (organized by National Council of Jewish Women, Catholics for Choice, and Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice) (Sept 2021)
  • Letter urging members of congress to oppose White House’s requests for additional funding or flexibility in spending for immigration enforcement and detention operations (Defund Hate Coalition) (Sept 2021)