The Jewish Service Corps

Frequently Asked Questions

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.

What does JOC mean?

JOC is an acronym for Jews of Color, an umbrella term for community members who self-identify as Black or African American, Asian, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, non-White Latinx, Indigenous American or Alaska Native,and/or multi-racial Jews.

Note: If you’re feeling unsure of whether the JOC Bayit is the right place to spend your service year or just want to talk through this piece, you can reach out to Samiah, our JOC Program Manager, at jocbayit@avodah.net.

Why did we create a specific Bayit for JOCs? 

We heard from some of our JOC alumni and participants that living communally with predominantly white Jews can be challenging and overwhelming, and that this complicates the communal living aspect of the Jewish Service Corps that is so central to the experience of Avodah. The JOC Bayit is a space where JOC CMs are able to focus their energy on building community, fostering a deeper connection to Jewishness, practicing self- and community-care, engaging in leadership development and identity formation, and celebrating what it means to be a Jew of Color. While the residential model of the JOC Bayit is contingent on enough interest, we are committed to always having a dedicated space for Jews of Color to unplug from the wider Jewish Service Corps community to process, celebrate, and learn. If you’re a Jew of Color and interested in living in a JOC-only space while completing your service year, the JOC Bayit may be right for you!

We also know that creating a Jewish Service Corps that is inclusive and welcoming to Jews of Color does not start or end with an affinity space. We are committed to fostering multi-racial community across our program, and to ongoing curricular work that centers racial justice and anti-oppression training for our all Corps Members.

Is the JOC Bayit always residential?

Depending on interest year-to-year, the JOC Bayit can take the form of either a physical communal living option in NYC (an apartment unit housed in the same building as the other NYC Bayit), or a non-residential Bayit across Service Corps cities where JOC Corps Members come together virtually and regionally for community building and programming. 

Applicants who are interested in a communal space are recommended to interview with placement organizations in NYC, but should note that a residential model is contingent on participant interest, and that they should be prepared to potentially live in a predominately white or multi-racial space.

If I’m a JOC and I’m accepted to the Jewish Service Corps, do I have to live in the JOC Bayit?

Definitely not! You can live wherever you match with a placement organization. During the matching round, you can interview with placements in NYC with the intent of living in the JOC Bayit, interview with placements elsewhere with the intent of participating virtually, or opt out entirely. We know that applicants apply to the Jewish Service Corps for different reasons, and that not all JOCs may be looking for the experience the JOC Bayit provides.

Will the programming in the JOC Bayit be the same as the rest of the Jewish Service Corps cohort?

Usually, yes! Our NYC Program Director and JOC Bayit Program Manager work together to facilitate programming across the full NYC cohort. That being said, the JOC Bayit also allows for some programming opportunities that are specifically for JOCs. Sometimes, this just means having a caucus space within a program, or processing space afterward if needed. Otherwise, this may include programming around: navigating the leadership challenges of being a JOC in a majority white organization, developing an empowered JOC identity, cultivating Jewish practice and ritual across the diaspora, and community-building events in collaboration with local or regional JOC-led organizations.

When residential, what’s the relationship between the JOC Bayit and the rest of the Service Corps cohort?

A close one! If you live in the JOC Bayit, you will still be part of the broader cohort, and have opportunities to be in community both with the other Corps Members both in your Bayit, and across the full cohort. We have Program Directors in each Service Corps city and a JOC Bayit Program Manager, who work together to facilitate programming and deep community building.

Is there a separate application process for the JOC Bayit?

Nope! Just make sure to indicate your interest in the JOC Bayit during your application. In your interview with a Program Director, you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions and discuss your interest in the JOC Bayit more.

Should Sephardi and Mizrahi applicants apply for the JOC Bayit?

It depends! If you’re Sephardi and/or Mizrahi and identify as a JOC based on the above definition, you may want to consider applying for the JOC Bayit. If you’re unsure of whether you qualify, please feel free to reach out to our JOC Program Manager, Samiah, at jocbayit@avodah.net.

What if I’m an Queer Jew of Color; will this be a space for me?

We sure hope so! Across our Service Corps, approximately 50% of our participants year-to-year identify as being a part of the LGBTQ community year to year. Sometimes, that number can be as high as 75% in particular cohorts. We strongly encourage queer Jews of Color to apply!

Can you be a POC but not a JOC to be a part of the JOC Bayit?

Applicants do not have to be Jewish to participate in the Service Corps, but the JOC Bayit will be geared towards supporting the unique needs of Jews of Color. We welcome all to apply, however, priority will be given to self-identified Jews of Color.

Is the JOC Bayit tokenizing?

This is an important and complicated question with no easy answer. The JOC Bayit is an initiative that was developed by Jews of Color, based on the feedback of Jews of Color, with the specific goal of creating leadership development opportunities for young social justice-oriented Jews of Color. That being said, the honest answer is that we know this is ongoing, imperfect work—and work that comes with high stakes for the potential of causing harm. We welcome feedback from our participants, alumni, and other community members as we continuously work to ensure that JOC spaces in the Service Corps are safe, supportive, and impactful.

Still have questions?

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