Category Archives: Corps members

The Empowerment of “Power With”

By Kayla Glick

Three DC Avodahniks recently  had the delight of being part of the MLK day service at Temple B’nai Shalom in Fairfax, VA. Kayla Glick shared her reflections on what it means to create power with others in order to create community in which we all participate in the growth of the world. We wanted to share her beautiful words with you. 

kaylaShabbat shalom! My name is Kayla, and in addition to being an AVODAH corps member this year, I’m a community organizer at Jews United for Justice. JUFJ leads Washington-area Jews to act on our shared Jewish values by pursuing justice and equality in our local community. I’d like to ask you to take a second to notice your own reaction to the word power. What comes to mind? Is there a specific person that is evocative of power for you? Does it have a negative or positive connotation?Growing up, I had negative associations with power. Power sounded dangerous, and even selfish. It evoked images of corruption and oppression. When I thought of power, I only thought of zero sum power—if one person has more, another person necessarily has less.

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Making “Other” Into “Our own”: DC Stands Up Against Homelessness

By Kelley Kidd
kelleykiddAbout a month ago, at a community Shabbat with my fellow Avodahniks, we got into a powerful discussion surrounding debt and giving. We talked about the implications of Jewish texts that emphasize the importance of caring first for your own community, expanding out from the self in concentric circles. We acknowledged how much we value that there is a community here in DC that supports us without really knowing us, because of our shared Judaism. Our shared Judaism allows us to trust that if any of us were to fall, there is a community there to pick us up. Texts in the Talmud ensure that our obligation is first to our immediate circles, and there is comfort in for the one who receives, but also for the one who gives. There is security inherent in the knowledge that the Jewish people are commanded not to leave any poor among their people, and that their people–the Jewish community around them–come first. This happens naturally–those with whom we believe we have most in common are the most natural recipients of our compassion. However, that sense of kinship shuts the door to those beyond that easy compassion, we lose the sense of obligation to the wider human circles that share the same sanctity of life we attribute to those dearest to us.

A Call to Wake

By Hannah Rich

hannah richMy stomach turned as I picked up the phone.

“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.

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A Day on the Job: Exposure Igniting Passion

By Yonah Lieberman

yonahMy 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.

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Moving Towards Action

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.

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Where Are You From?

By Rayza Goldsmith

“Where are you from?”

rayzaThis 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.

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Assimilation Helps us to Grow: Thanksgivukkah, Menurkeys, and Our Expanding Community

By Jenn Pollan

This was adapted from a speech that Jenn recently gave at an AVODAH NYC Hanukkah party. 

jenn pollanIn 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