The Jewish Service Corps

Turn your passion into action

What is the Jewish Service Corps?

Your place in social justice movements and Jewish community

The Jewish Service Corps is an immersive service year program for individuals ages 21-26 who are passionate about social justice and ready to engage in a pluralistic Jewish community. 

Corps Members live and learn together in intentional, pluralistic communal homes in Chicago, New Orleans, New York, and Washington, DC. While they deepen their social justice framework through experiential programming and values-driven community building, Corps Members serve directly at local organizations tackling crucial social and economic justice issues. 

Corps Members graduate with a year of meaningful, on-the-ground job experience and robust professional and personal development, joining our active 1,500+ alumni network of Jewish social justice professionals and activists who will continue to support their future careers and serve as their Jewish community for life.

Apply Now

Applications are now open for the ‘24-’25 program year. If you’re ready to apply, click here to get started. The last deadline before rolling admissions is March 27th. Otherwise, scroll down to continue learning about the impact our Corps Members have on their communities.
Questions? Reach out to apply@avodah.net.

Why serve with Avodah?

Create lasting Jewish community
Home-cooked Shabbat dinners, late-night conversations, and holiday celebrations make living in the bayit (communal home) memorable and meaningful. Corps Members co-create intentional, pluralistic communities that help them envision and embody how the world could be.

Launch your career in social justice
After matching with a placement organization, you’ll contribute meaningfully to on-the-ground efforts on crucial justice issues such as immigration, housing insecurity, education, healthcare, the criminal legal system, and more. Gain a year of hands-on experience with a supportive community by your side.

Dive into deep learning
Through experiential programming, you’ll explore different facets of movements for justice, the role of community in creating a more just world, and how you want to show up as a Jew in justice work.  Our dynamic curriculum will deepen and contextualize your day-to-day work, while supporting you in finding your place in broader justice movements.

Have your basic needs met
Avodah takes care of the most important things. Corps Members receive furnished housing, a monthly living stipend, health insurance, an exit stipend, and a travel allowance.  Corps Members can also tap into the economic access fund to support unmet financial needs.

Join our active alumni network for life
Our community of over 1,500 Jewish social justice professionals and activists across the country are there to help with apartment hunts, job references, Shabbat dinner invites, mentorship, and everything in between.

 

Jews of Color (JOCs) can choose to build community in the JOC Bayit, an affinity space within the Service Corps designed to nurture the leadership and well-being of Jews of Color.

“Avodah truly opened my eyes to the possibilities of living a life dedicated to social justice, Judaism, and the interconnectedness thereof. I have gained invaluable connections, resources, and critical analyses that I am sure will sustain me throughout a future dedicated to social justice, Judaism, and community.”


— Chicago Service Corps alum

What does being a Corps Member look like?

We help young Jewish leaders create lasting impacts on their communities. 55%* of Service Corps alumni chose to live in their program city after completing their service year and 80%* of alumni felt better equipped to help strengthen their Jewish community’s involvement in the fight for social justice.

*of alumni polled in the 2021 Avodah Alumni Survey

Serving

Corps Members turn their passion into action by serving in cities across the country at local organizations doing critical economic justice work at the community level. At Avodah, we believe in the power and importance of being in deep, authentic relationship with those most impacted by poverty. We know that our work is strongest when rooted in coalition and proximity. Our Corps Members take on meaningful roles that address economic injustice and critical social justice issues such as immigration and refugee resettlement, healthcare, housing insecurity, gender-based violence, education, the criminal legal system, and more in four cities: Chicago, New Orleans, New York City, and Washington, D.C..

Corps Members add significant capacity to organizations on the ground and in turn, gain key work experience that deepens their analysis of injustice and grows leadership skills. Their year of service is not only the perfect springboard to a career in the justice field but a pathway to infusing any career path with Jewish social justice values. Corps Members learn how to apply the social justice lens they gain through service and programming to all fields of work. And while our focus has always been on setting Corps Members up for a lifetime of meaningful, sustainable, and effective social justice work – not saving the world in one service year – it’s undeniable that the contributions of our Corps Members to their placements and the impact on the clients they serve are invaluable. Learn more about serving here.

ORGANIZATIONS WE SERVE

Matching with your placement

During the final round of the selection process, you’ll have the chance to be matched with a placement organization based on both your own preferences and skill sets and the input of our placement organizations. Corps Members then support our placement organizations in a range of crucial ways. Most of our Corps Members engage in direct service, working with clients to meet their immediate needs. Others might engage in community organizing or legal advocacy. Learn more about the matching process here.

Regardless of your particular role, you’ll return to the communal home at the end of the work day where you’re able to learn and live in community with your fellow Corps Members, all of whom are working on different justice issues in different ways. Whatever work you end up doing with Avodah, you’ll gain a holistic perspective of how different issue areas interact in your city, and what types of social justice work resonate with you.

PLACEMENT SPOTLIGHT

The First 72+

We are proud to support The First 72+, a re-entry program for formerly incarcerated individuals in New Orleans.

What will my job be?

Below are a few examples of the kinds of positions we offer through our placement organizations.

Living

We believe that relationships that allow for real vulnerability and support are one of the most important resources that we can draw on to help us build a more just world. In the Service Corps, Corps Members create the foundations for powerful lasting friendships and collaborations by co-creating intentional, pluralistic communities across our program cities.

In each city, Avodah provides a fully furnished communal home known as the bayit (the Hebrew word for house). Corps Members don’t have to worry about paying rent or utility bills, or even the challenges that come from trying to do chores, cook meals, and run errands alone. Instead, Corps Members work collectively to form communities where everyone can have their needs met, their authentic selves are seen, and their growth pushed in loving ways. Our team is there to provide support on everything from dealing with apartment problems to providing training on conflict resolution.

Life within the bayit is both joyous and challenging, meaningful and complicated. The communal home is where you’ll wrestle together with the hard questions of social justice work, learn from a diverse set of perspectives and backgrounds, negotiate to create a community that can contain a diverse set of Jewish practices and observance levels, and move through the inherent conflict that can arise from creating an authentic community. It’s also where you’ll share yummy meals, make plans to explore the city together, plug into local activism, celebrate Jewish holidays and life, invest deeply in community care, and prioritize joy, relationships, and nourishment. To make it all work, you’ll spend time in orientation and ongoing programming digging deep into community building, conflict resolution, anti-oppression training, and pluralism.

Communal living can sometimes be seen as one of the more intimidating components of the program—and yet we hear every year from Corps Members that it turned out to be the most meaningful. Our Corps Members are empowered to create within the Bayit liberatory microcosms of how the world could be. After the service year is over, 50% of our Corps Members continue to live together, and our alumni continue to engage in multiple ways for decades to come. Learn more about communal living here.

BAYIT SPOTLIGHT

JOC Bayit

Self-identified Jews of Color (JOCs) have the opportunity to participate in the JOC Bayit. The JOC Bayit is an affinity space within the Jewish Service Corps designed to nurture the leadership and well-being of Jews of Color. The JOC Bayit offers a JOC-only space within the wider, multi-racial Jewish Service Corps experience, where JOC Corps Members can focus their energy on learning together, fostering a deeper connection to their justice work, practicing self- and community-care, engaging in leadership development, and celebrating their Jewish identity. Depending on interest year-to-year, the JOC Bayit takes the form of either a physical communal living option in NYC or a non-residential Bayit across Service Corps cities where JOC Corps Members come together both virtually and regionally for community building and programming.

Our Cities

Learn more about the cities our Service Corps members serve in.

CHICAGO

D.C.

NEW ORLEANS

NEW YORK

Learning

The work of social change can be exhausting, personal, and complicated, and can lead to great social justice leaders burning out early. That’s why an essential component of the Jewish Service Corps is transformative, innovative programming. Our programming is designed to contextualize, deepen, and nourish your placement work while strengthening your ability to stay in social justice work for the long haul. Our Corps Members engage in learning through a varied set of programs that include learning sessions, anti-oppression training, issue salons led by Corps Members, community care nights, immersive retreats, professional development opportunities, affinity and praxis groups, panels, holiday programs, community Shabbats, and more.

Learning with Avodah falls into three blocks throughout the year (Grounding, Grappling, and Growing) and is anchored by three guiding questions:

What are some visions for movements for social justice, and which resonate with me?

Why is community important to creating a more just and equitable world?

How do I show up as a Jew for justice?

Some programs will help you develop a structural analysis around economic and social injustice. You’ll locate your placement’s work in a broader landscape, examine the connections to different issue areas in your city, interrogate different methods of social change, explore questions of power and positionality, and dive deep into the intersecting root causes of oppression. And your skill building won’t be siloed to whatever work you’re doing in your placement – through programming, you’ll gain critical skills such as fundraising, organizing, program development and facilitation, self-advocacy, conflict resolution, practices for personal and communal reflection, and much more. These skills will also give you the expertise you need to make the most of your communal living experience and build a community that is generous, pluralistic, and accessible.

Other programs will help you develop a relationship to your Jewishness that can be empowering, authentic, and sustaining. You’ll engage with your Jewish identity as it relates to your activism, and with the ways that your political beliefs can inform your Jewish practice. You and your fellow Corps Members will meet with rabbis (including our on-staff Ruach Avodah, who are available to provide deep Jewish learning and personal pastoral care), educators, community leaders, and activists throughout the year to explore Jewish texts, history, and justice-oriented approaches to Jewish holidays and ritual. Our Corps Members create a lasting, pluralistic Jewish community that is deeply and inextricably intertwined with justice values.

And all of our programs aim to bring both your Jewishness and your understanding of justice together, equipping you for a future anchored in the intersections of these components of who you are. Learn more about programming here.

Examples of programs might include:

• Anti-racism Training

• Shabbat as a Radical Practice 

• How to Have Difficult Conversations: Exploration, Tools, and Practice

• Antisemitism & White Supremacy

• City-specific Issues (i.e. DC Statehood/Voting Rights, Gentrification in New Orleans)

• Financial Literacy

• Regulation Tracking and Tools: Body-Based Approaches to Self Care in Community

• Jews in the Labor Movement

• Issue Salon on Immigration and Refugee Resettlement

“Avodah introduced me to friends and peers who were also committed to studying our shared histories and past struggles for justice, within and beyond Judaism, in a way that enabled us to imagine and actualize vibrant and meaningful futures for ourselves and for others. Together, we cultivated the collective rituals, learnings, and joy needed to support one another, sustain our own work, and hold each other accountable in striving to make those connections between our past and our present every day.”


— DC Service Corps alum

Alumni Community

When you join Avodah, you join a network of more than 1,500+ Jewish social justice leaders committed to giving back and working toward change. You’ll have opportunities throughout your service year to learn from alumni in programs, to connect one-on-one on mentorship opportunities, and be in community at local gatherings and holiday celebrations. Our alumni go on to work in education, social services, public policy, healthcare, law, non-profit management, community organizing, the Jewish communal sphere, and so much more.  Some of them — nearly 30%–even stay on at their placement organization after the service year is over. Our network of peers, friends, professional colleagues, and mentors will be there to support you through all phases of your life and career. Learn more about our incredible alumni.

A GROWING COMMUNITY

Welcome to Avodah

Our alumni shared their insights into how to make the most of your year serving with Avodah’s Jewish Service Corps. 

FEATURED STORIES

The Latest from the Jewish Service Corps

Ready to become a Jewish Service Corps Member?

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 we’re here to answer any questions you may have.