The Jewish Service Corps

Frequently Asked Questions

Mental Health

Because a year in Avodah is challenging, it’s also designed with many structures to support your wellbeing. Corps Members have access to our National Mental Health Advisor, who provides programming and can serve as a resource for Corps Members as they take care of their mental health. From the time you match with a placement, the National Mental Health advisor is available to help you access and set up mental healthcare resources in your Avodah city.

Additionally, our Ruach Avodah, or Rabbis-in-residence, are there not only to support your Jewish learning through programming and ritual, but to provide pastoral care as you explore your Jewish identity and pluralistic community. Your Program Director will be there to provide individual and communal support as you progress through your year, whether it’s advising on a challenging situation in the home or helping you advocate for yourself at work. Corps Members also have a built-in support system through the communities they create with their fellow Corps Members. Corps Members can opt in to national affinity groups around shared marginalized identities (i.e. for queer or trans folks, Jews of Color, Sephardim, and Mizrahim, participants from poor or working class backgrounds, etc) or praxis groups (for participants who want to work across cohorts on issues or identities where they hold privilege, such as whiteness, class privilege, gentrification, etc).

I’m neurodiverse. Is this program the right fit for me?

At Avodah, we are firmly committed to the value of Kehillah (Community). We believe that no one of us can make social change on our own and that every member of the Jewish community has a role to play in advancing social justice in the United States. Therefore, we strive to ensure that any member of the Jewish community who is qualified to participate in the Avodah Jewish Service Corps — whether neurotypical, neurodiverse, as well as those with depression, anxiety, PTSD, or ADHD — is able to do so. At the same time, it is important that every candidate for the program understands the unique challenges the program presents and decides whether the experience is right for them.

Every year, Avodah Corps Members who identify as neurodiverse participate in our year of service and thrive. For some, past experiences of marginalization uniquely prepare them to demonstrate empathy to clients. For others, communication skills developed through a lifetime of self-advocacy allow them to thrive in community living. Every participant has a different experience, but Avodah is committed to supporting you in having a positive and fulfilling year of service, learning and community building.

Avodah is a very rigorous program. The candid feedback, intense communal living, and challenging service work are not for everyone. When determining whether the Avodah Service Corps is a good fit for you, consider these questions with a friend, family member or trusted mental health professional:

How comfortable am I participating in frequent large group activities, learning sessions, and programming? Will I feel restored if the majority of my time (including sleep) is spent with or in close proximity to other people?

How well do I respond to challenging feedback? What tools do I have to help myself respond productively to challenging feedback?

What tools do I have to create an environment that makes me feel safe?

What steps could I take to build trusting relationships with housemates?

What tools will support me in listening and sharing in the responsibilities of intentional living and participating in house meetings?

What triggers may exist for me in a communal living environment? How will I prepare myself for those triggers?

What triggers may exist for me in the placement (i.e., the organization for which I will serve)? How will I prepare myself for those triggers?

Avodah is not a therapeutic program, and we are not equipped to meet all needs. In order to ensure a successful transition into and year with Avodah, we recommend taking the following steps (as applicable):

If you have a mental health provider, work with your provider to create a safety plan.

Before arriving in your Avodah city for the program orientation, research and create a plan that will allow you to continue your existing self-care practices (e.g. gyms, bodywork, support groups, acupuncturists, etc.).

Find a mental health provider in your Avodah city prior to your arrival.

Schedule a transition meeting with your current mental health provider and new mental health provider.

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.