In August 2021, Avodah launched our sixth program city in San Diego. Avodah San Diego is our first site on the West Coast and we’re thrilled to be building partnerships and making real change on issues including immigration, refugee and asylum seeker assistance, homelessness, criminal justice reform, and much more.
Avodah San Diego is a collaboration between Avodah and Jewish Family Service of San Diego (JFS), one of San Diego’s oldest and most impactful human service agencies. We’re grateful to be in partnership with JFS, which provides a range of services: from hunger and homelessness, to family violence, to immigration. In fact, JFS is a core partner of the Rapid Response Network, a dynamic collaboration between human rights and service organizations and attorneys and advocates, dedicated to aiding immigrants and their families in the San Diego border region, the largest land border crossing in the world.
When Avodah journeyed to the U.S./Mexico border in 2018 with a delegation of 17 Jewish organizations, we witnessed the devastation of our broken immigration system firsthand.
At the border, we visited detention centers with barbed wires and prison cells, severe lack of due-process, children separated from their families, denial of basic necessities, and people, who were desperately trying to seek legal asylum in the U.S. being met with the most inhumane conditions. This experience was incredibly moving and activating. We returned with a sense of urgency to create a more just system and we knew Avodah could play a role.
San Diego is the largest land border crossing in the world and has been a highly active location for deportations, human rights violations, and abuse. We know creating change takes time and investment. It takes a willingness to continue to work on solutions, even when the topic of immigration cycles out of the news headlines. In launching Avodah San Diego, we plan to build a pipeline of leaders in the region who will enhance the Jewish community’s work on this issue, while also fighting the causes and effects of poverty throughout the region in all of our issue areas including homelessness, hunger, criminal justice reform, climate justice, education, healthcare access, and more.
Since Avodah’s founding in 1998, over 1,400 Corps Members have served at nearly 300 social service agencies, adding over $22 million in capacity and assisting more than 700,000 individuals facing the challenges of poverty. We are excited and prepared to grow our work to the West Coast and to be in partnership with the top human service organizations in the region.
—Rabbi Alexis Berk, Temple Solel, Cardiff by the Sea