Seminars & Workshops

OUR EXPERTISE

We have expertise in a wide range of subjects that we can bring to your community.  Here is a selection of programs we’ve taught in Jewish spaces across the country:

  • Understanding the role of the Jewish community in advancing social and economic justice
  • Exploring privilege, race and racial justice
  • Building a vibrant, supportive local Jewish justice community
  • Creating meaningful and impactful service programs for your synagogue community
  • Teaching social justice concepts to young children
  • Working with b’nai mitzvah students to create inspiring service learning and mitzvah project experiences
  • Methods of effectively engaging program alumni in ongoing community building and social justice efforts

To learn more about bringing Avodah to your community, please email Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg:  [email protected]

OUR OFFERINGS

Our seminars, workshops and trainings can be given in-person or as a series of webinars.  They can take place over several evenings or for a full- or half-day. Each unit is independent and can be combined with other units to make a full curriculum or series.  Here are just a few of our workshops.  Contact Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg at  [email protected] to learn about other possibilities or to tailor a program for your community’s needs.

Systems of Inequality
This session will introduce participants to an understanding of poverty from a systemic, rather than individual, perspective–that is it will help them to understand larger social systems that contribute to economic injustice in America.  It will use traditional Jewish texts around moneylending to illustrate one facet of economic justice issues–relevant today in everything from student loans to subprime mortgages. The conversation will then broaden focus to a range of systemic issues relevant in America today, and participants will have a chance to think comprehensively about what kinds of social justice work might be useful in addressing them.

Fighting for Racial Justice
This session will enable participants to engage deeply with perspectives on racial justice and layers of oppression, to understand different types of oppression (e.g., ideological, institutional, interpersonal and internalized), and to strategize on ways to fight them.  It will engage deeply in the question of what responsible allyship looks like, and how bridges can be built in this work.  The session will also make space to highlight your community’s diversity and the diversity within the wider Jewish community, and to think about ways to best amplify the voices of Jews of Color in Jewish communal work on racism.

Intersections of Race, Gender and Poverty
This session will illuminate the ways in which the particulars of race and gender and other identities can impact questions and issues related to poverty and economic justice.  It will look at traditional and modern Jewish texts, contemporary writings on race, and data about poverty and gender, race, and sexual orientation to talk about everything from the necessity of a Biblical injunction to protect widows through the “hidden” costs of being African-American.  It will include time for participants to think through the implications of this learning on in their own lives, work, and social action engagement.

Understanding Antisemitism
This session will build a shared understanding of antisemitism in participants’ lives and in the broader context of the contemporary United States, particularly at this political moment; help participants to think about how antisemitism connects to other forms of oppression; and identify some patterns and internalized forms of antisemitism and start unpacking them.  By the end of this session, participants will have looked at how antisemitism is connected to other forms of oppression in their work and lives, and in the broader world.

To Be of Use: Passion and Vision in Social Justice Work
This session will explore the concept of vision and its importance in sustaining effective social change, and the importance of connecting to social justice work from a place of personal investment. It will examine several different methods of social change including: direct service; advocacy; community organizing; community development; and philanthropy.  It will also enable participants to investigate their social justice passion, vision and methods from an expansive understanding of what “activism” is and can be. It will enable participants to articulate their vision of what a just world might look like, as well as a vision for their own next few years’ engagement and the connection between their Jewish heritage and their social justice work.

Reflection and Its Relationship to Activism
This session will introduce some reflective practices that can help participants in their work for social change.  After all, reflection is crucial for personal nourishment and sustenance; to prevent burnout; and to help the work itself–as self-awareness and creative thinking are essential in doing any effective work in the world.  It will provide a Jewish vocabulary and ideas about reflection, it will include experiential exercises to help broaden participants’ personal toolkit, and will introduce the concept of Shabbat as a radical practice that can deepen and sharpen one’s justice work in a variety of ways.

What’s Jewish About Justice?
This session will offer several different Jewish perspectives on justice work and movements for justice, deploying both traditional and less-traditional texts.  Participants will also grapple with both the prevalence of justice values embedded in the Jewish tradition and strands of deeply oppressive thinking in the same tradition.  They will be given the tools to engage in the ongoing Jewish practice of evaluating if, how, and when to reframe oppressive tropes into liberatory ones.