AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps

Amy Blumsak Picture

April 2011 

matzahHelp AVODAH Raise Dough at Passover! 


AVODAH has an opportunity to raise $100,000 in matching funds. Every dollar in new or increased gifts will be matched 1:1. Give now and instantly double the impact of your support!

Dear AVODAH Friends and Supporters:


Marilyn Sneiderman

Marilyn Sneiderman, Executive Director 

I'm thrilled to share with you our latest national e-newsletter. As you'll see, there's a lot going on!


AVODAH Corps members and alumni are doing great work in Chicago, New Orleans, New York, and Washington, DC.


We have a unique opportunity to raise $100,000 in matching grant funds. An anonymous family foundation has pledged support to help us upgrade our technology in order to bring more young people into AVODAH to serve more people in need. Repair the World has offered us a second grant to enable us to explore the next phase of our growth. Please take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to double your support


We are excited about our exceptional Partners in Justice honorees for 2011. Links to event details and ticket information can be found below.


And much more! Read on for highlights of AVODAH in recent publications; a first-hand report from an alum on-the-ground in Madison, Wisconsin; an update from my recent meetings with alumni around the country; and our 2011-2012 application process.


Wishing you and yours a chag Pesach kasher v'sameach - a happy, meaningful, justice-filled Passover.

Stephanie Ruskay

Passover: Community For the Sake of Justice 


"We begin the telling of the story of Passover by proclaiming: 'Let all who are hungry come and eat, let all who are needy come celebrate Passover.' We welcome anyone who wants to be there, even if they are not the people with whom we might usually work or socialize. This Passover I offer you a challenge." Read on! 


Rabbi Stephanie Ruskay is AVODAH's Director of Alumni and Community Engagement.  

PartnersInJusticeHonoring our 2011 Partners in Justice

Partners in Justice 2011 Invite

AVODAH DC is pleased to honor Faye Moskowitz, a professor of English at George Washington University, and Gene Sofer, longtime AmeriCorps champion, at our Partners in Justice event, Wednesday, April 27 at Congregation Adas Israel (Cleveland Park, DC). To donate and RSVP to the DC event, click here. 


AVODAH Chicago is pleased to honor Rachel Durchslag, the Founder and Executive Director of Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, and Roberta Rakove, the Senior Vice President of Government Affairs at Sinai Health System, at our Partners in Justice event, Wednesday, June 1 at Nacional 27 (325 West Hurion). To donate and RSVP to the Chicago event, click here. 

In lieu of our annual Partners in Justice event in New York this year we will host a series of smaller, more intimate gatherings. Details to follow.

ChicagoChicago: AVODAH's Influence 

At a recent Purim gathering sponsored by AVODAH Chicago, alum Ilana Zafran ('06-'07) spoke about how AVODAH has influenced her professional career, her commitment to social justice, and her involvement in Jewish life.  Ilana Zafran with students


People often want to know, "What did you get from AVODAH?" and there are certainly many concrete answers: professional skills, a Jewish community, some of my best friends in the world, and, of course, my career. What I don't get to talk about when I am giving the "quick" answer to that question are the ways that AVODAH profoundly changed my identity. Read all of Ilana's remarks here.


You can also learn more about Ilana's pursuit of justice with the "Culture of Calm" initiative in a recent interview for Chicago Public Radio.  

NewYorkNew York: Organizing for Affordable Housing

Corps member Avital Aboody works at Urban Homesteading Assistance Board (UHAB) as a Tenant Organizer. After her site visit, when all the New York Corps members visited UHAB, Avital reflected on the process of organizing for affordable housing:Avital Aboody


As Jews we have a strong and proud history of organizing against injustice. And if in this modern context some of us are now blessed with more power and means, we should find ways to harness this power for good and assert that we are not exempt from participating in the struggle for more widespread collective change. Read about Avital's Site Visit at UHAB. 

AlumniGatheringsAlumni Gatherings

Alumni Gathering
Executive Director Marilyn Sneiderman has been meeting with AVODAH alumni at gatherings around the country (Chicago, Boston, and New York thus far) to hear about the highlights of their AVODAH experiences and brainstorm ideas for improving the year-long program and the national alumni community.

AVODAHInTheNewsAVODAH in the News

Check out PresenTense Magazine's most recent issue, which features articles by several AVODAH community members, including AVODAH New Orleans Program Director
Joshua Lichtman and Moshe Kornfeld (The Jewish Service Mecca) and AVODAH alum Rachel Van Thyn ('04-'05) (Direct Service or Community Organizing?)

Also read Chicago Corps member Alizah Benchetrit's piece on being an advocate in the domestic violence community in  Jewish Women's International.

NewOrleansNew Orleans: What's Your Katrina Story?


Corps members Leah Varsano and Tamar Toledano were recently featured in PresenTense:

Leah, Tamar, NOLA

Every year at the Passover

seder, Jewish families and communities are reminded that "in every generation a person is obligated to see themselves as if they left Egypt." This instruction communicates a core value that Jewish text encourages: preserving memories as markers of our existence-or, simply put, storying. Read the full article here.

Washington, DC: Technology and WashingtonDCInequality in the Workplace

Sam WaxmanCorps member Sam Waxman works at SOME-CET (So Others Might Eat's Center for Employment Training), where she helps low-income and disadvantaged adults obtain living-wage employment. Writing about technology in her work, she explains:

I have always heard that the purpose of technology is to better connect people... But imagine living entirely outside of that system... Instead of connecting people, technology cuts off the people who don't have access to it further than if we had no computers or Internet at all. And, of course, these people's inability to access the Internet and computers effectively cuts them out of the labor market. Read Sam's full article on our blog, AVODAH: Jewish Voices Pursuing Justice, here.   

PursuePursue: The View from Madison 

AVODAH alum Eli Wykell ('07-'08) is a law student at the University of Wisconsin, working to make change and to ensure his voice is heard. Eli Wykell

I found AVODAH so appeali
ng because it gave me an opportunity to explore social justice in a professional setting where I felt more comfortable working to affect change. Yet now, I find myself outside for about an hour every day chanting with the rest. Read about Eli's experience protesting in Wisconsin at PursueAction.org.

StillAcceptingApplicationsStill Accepting Applications! 

AVODAH is accepting applications on a rolling basis for our next program year, which starts at the end of August. Do you know any young adults who want to spend a year fighting poverty? Please help us spread the word!  

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