This blog gives our Corps members space to write about their experiences in the year-long service program as they question, explore, and grow into lifelong agents for social change whose commitment to social justice is guided by their Jewish values.
Posts on this blog do not necessarily represent the views of AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps.
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Category Archives: Corps members
By Hannah Rich
“No, I will not be taking a job at your education start-up… Yes, I know that it is an incredible opportunity… Thank you, I appreciate the offer… This feels right.”
After weeks of late night deliberations, I accepted an assistant teacher position in New Orleans as an AVODAH corps member. It did feel right—well, mostly. A little voice still whispered doubts: “You are giving up your Silicon Valley “in”…You won’t get into a good graduate school… Everyone will have more money then you…You won’t have a seat at decision-making tables as a teacher…You will only have a voice with traditional status and power.” In contrast, my intuition begged me to follow my love of teaching and take a break from the consumer-driven tech world.
By Yonah Lieberman
My first few days as a tenant organizer were a blur. Near the end of my first day I followed another organizer into the basement of a building through a door she had (literally) kicked in. She called out into the darkness to see if there were any drug dealers or users in the space — there weren’t — before turning on her phone’s flashlight so we could see the horrendous shape it was in. What should have been a place for tenants to store things was a maze of trash and debris that had been neglected nearly past the point of no return.
By Michal David
Sitting on my client’s couch, I am nearly brought to tears as I listen to him share his experience of visiting the Social Security Office. He tells me about sitting in the office for hours, about watching other more “official” looking people pass him in line, and about being treated “like a criminal” by the staff at the office. As a housing case manager at Heartland Alliance, the leading anti-poverty organization in the Midwest, I am often witness to such instances of institutional discrimination. I am painfully aware of the difference in responses that my clients and I receive rom landlords when calling to inquire about an available apartment and of the stigma that my clients feel when they go to seek care at a clinic that is predominantly for HIV/AIDS positive patients. In the face of such everyday injustices, I often find myself feeling overwhelmed by the idea of seriously affecting change.
By Rayza Goldsmith
“Where are you from?”
This question, simple on its face, is in fact layered with meaning that has perplexed me since I identified the particular nuance associated with my own upbringing in Maryland just over the Washington, D.C. border.
When I moved to college in Ann Arbor, MI, my conception of where I was from was complicated by my strong feelings toward my new home and the way it grew me up.
Now, I’m living in New Orleans, LA: “The Big Easy”; “The City that Care Forgot”; “NOLA.” This city, steeped in history and experience so distinct from the rest of the country that it’s referred to by locals, both from “here” and “there”, as the northernmost Caribbean city. It has a relationship to locality that is characteristically distinct from the rest of the United States.
By Jenn Pollan
This was adapted from a speech that Jenn recently gave at an AVODAH NYC Hanukkah party.
In case you missed the articles on Buzzfeed and the pictures of “Menurkeys” that flooded Instagram and Twitter this year, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah coincided and a new hybrid holiday, “Thanksgivukkah,” was born. This has not happened since 1888 and will not happen again for another 76,000 years. Continue reading