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AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps Newsletter

Making a Difference in the GulfJune 2010
In This Issue
Making a Difference in the Gulf
AVODAH in the News
Corps member Spotlight: Elana Bauer
Pursue: Action for a Just World
Eve Shapiro on the Importance of Community
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Making a Difference in the Gulf
By Michal Boyarsky
Michal Boyarsky, 2009-2010 New Orleans Corps member
05-06 CMs
AVODAH Corps member Michal Boyarsky serves as a Community Outreach Coordinator at REACH NOLA and has been working to address the mental health needs of those impacted by the oil spill in the Gulf.
When I decided to do AVODAH in New Orleans, I was prepared for an extraordinary experience. While each of the AVODAH cities has a distinctive history and culture, and its own manifestations of urban poverty, New Orleans is unique in the sense that every aspect of people's lives here has been affected by Hurricane Katrina and the subsquent levee failures of 2005.

I knew this when I boarded a plane bound for Louis Armstrong International Airport back in August. My AVODAH placement is with REACH NOLA, a local non-profit community health organization that focuses, among other things, on community wellness and mental health. I prepared myself to deal with the depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder that so many are still struggling with several years after the flooding and devastation of the city. What I didn't prepare myself for was the added surge in mental health issues following another manmade disaster-the BP oil spill.
AVODAH in the News
Emma LevineCBS visited Thurgood Marshall Academy, a DC charter school and AVODAH placement agency earlier this month. Their report highlights the work of AVODAH alum Emma Levine as the school's Alumni Coordinator. Read their article and view the video here.
Corps Member Spotlight: Elana Bauer
Elana Bauer, 2009-2010 New York Corps member
Elana Bauer
Service has always been a part of Elana Baurer's life - from her mother's involvement with their synagogue's social action committee, to her decision to major in African American studies at Wesleyan. But until recently, she always struggled to locate herself and her service work within a larger, like-minded community. Then she joined AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps - a year-long service program that came with an instant community of 17 other people.
Bauer, whom AVODAH helped to place for the year as a paralegal at the New York Legal Assistance Group, took the time to share her thoughts on serving communities in need, the dangers of making assumptions, and how she hopes to bring the lessons she learned at AVODAH with her next year.
Pursue LogoPursue: Action for A Just World 
The AVODAH-AJWS Partnership has a new name: Pursue: Action for a Just World and a brand new website: www.pursueaction.org. Visit us there or at our Facebook page. Check out our blog posts - like a video chat with idealist founder Ami Dar - or find out what a California-vore is with a post about urban farming.
Upcoming Pursue events include:
New York:
In the Boardroom - Come hear from a distinguished panel of executive directors and seasoned board members about their experiences working with non-profit boards. Join us on Wednesday, July 21st at 7pm. More information here.
San Francisco:
Social Change Shabbat Dinner Series - Come break challah, share a potluck Shabbat meal and nourish your body and mind with yummy food, inspiring conversation and the chance to connect with folks who care about justice and change. Join us to take part in creating this new series! More information here.
Corps member Eve Shapiro speaking at Chicago's Partners in Justice Event
05-06 CMs
The Importance of Community
Chicago Corps member Eve Shapiro spoke about her experience in AVODAH at Chicago's annual Partners in Justice event. Read her inspirational remarks here.
When I was younger, I would spend a few hours a year in a downtown soup kitchen placing stale white rolls on dingy lunchroom trays. The recipients would walk slowly along the line of steaming, salty entrees, volunteers flashing beaming smiles which floated above their disposable aprons. Their quickly-moving, plastic-gloved hands distributed cookies and cartons of milk and creamed corn to the masses. And while I felt a sense of self-congratulatory pleasure at the work I had done to feed some men for a night, there were, in retrospect, a lot of impermeable surfaces that delineated where my skin gave and their skin received. Whether the plastic gloves and aprons were there to protect their food or my suburban sensibilities of cleanliness, the divisions between us were emphasized. There was comfort in the anonymity of who I was, and without an exchange of names, not to mention life stories or values, we secured our places in the room. One of us behind the buffet of food, the other in front.