Exploring the Divides in DC

By Allison Bolgiano

Looking down North Capitol Street at 1:00 am on a Thursday, I get a clear view of the Capitol Building glowing butter yellow. On this blustery January night, I am traversing the streets’ of D.C.’s Shaw neighborhood looking for anyone without a place to stay for the night as part of the annual Point in Time Count of homeless individuals. Seeing the Capitol, I am reminded of the deep divisions between the Democrats and Republicans who work there, three of whom I was able to shake hands with a week earlier during AVODAH D.C.’s advocacy day.

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Purim 2015: As Esther Fades to Black

By Yavilah McCoy

As an African-American Jewish woman, I review the Purim story and am immediately drawn to the actions of Esther, an innocent victim turned heroine, and her ability to utilize the privilege and position of power granted to her to save the Jewish people from annihilation. From the perspective of my African-American-Jewish history, there are many lessons and similarities. As I read the megillah (purim scroll), I recall 1853 and celebrate the actions of Sojourner Truth who spoke out against an unwilling White male congress and compared them to King Achashverosh and herself to Esther, a Jewish woman passing for a gentile, who was able to not only out herself as a Jew, but also summon up the courage to stand before the king as a messenger of truth and a representative of an oppressed people. As I read the megillah, I think of our majority White, Male and Republican Congress in 2015, and wonder who Sojourner Truth would name as the King Achashverosh and Queen Esthers of our time.

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#weareavodah: Rebecca Mather

In another installment in our ongoing series of profiles about our participants, we’re pleased to introduce you to Rebecca Mather, one of our New Orleans corps members: 

How did you get to AVODAH?
I’ve always had a passion for social justice, although I didn’t really start developing a complex understanding of social change movements until college. Growing up, I had a well-meaning but misdirected interest in changing things that felt unfair, and I think a lot of this stemmed from my involvement with the Jewish community. I was involved with my synagogue’s youth group and religious school, and both placed a huge emphasis on critical thinking and social action. Judaism was definitely my first outlet for creating positive change and that has really stuck with me.

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Collaboration From the Bottom Up

By Rebecca Koppel and Karin Lavie

Social service agencies with similar missions are frequently in competition for adequate funding, talented staff members, and control of policies. The fight over these limited resources leads to inefficient care and serves as a distraction from the real problem. Fortunately, AVODAH corps members have unique access to over a dozen antipoverty organizations throughout the city because of our corps member connections. We are able to facilitate relationships that inspire collaboration over competition.

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Responding to Ferguson Through Literature and Art

By Abigail Harris-Ridker and Liz London

“Excuse me, but this happened months ago, why are we only talking about this now?”
– Alina, Sinclair High School book group participant

Alina asked this question during the first day of our Response to Violence curriculum, which addressed the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO as well as police brutality and violence in Chicago and nationally. Alina was angry because she and her peers, most of whom have personal stories of police brutality, had never been given the opportunity to discuss these issues, either in school or in our program. However, it was clear that our book group created a different kind of safe space where she expected we would process these topics together – and she felt ownership over that.

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How to Be Cool

By Aaron Litz

Aaron LitzWorking with high school kids does two things to you very quickly: it makes you sick from trillions of youthful germs, and it makes you confront how uncool you are. I beat the germs with plenty of sleep and liquids, but I’ve had to travel on my own journey to ‘cool’.

Before we begin, I’ll state my qualifications for writing on the coolness of us adults. I work for BUILD Metro DC, a 4-year entrepreneurship program that keeps high school students excited about college and career success by helping them start their own businesses. The business start-up process is an amazing platform for education, and our students gain skills that many top-performing professionals wish they had.

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#weareavodah: Rebecca Manning

In our second installment of profiles about our participants, we’re pleased to introduce you to Rebecca Manning, one of our New York corps members: 

Tell us about the work that you’re doing at your placement:
I work at a non-profit in NY called the Medicare Rights Center. Prior to working here, my only knowledge about Medicare was that it was a healthcare system available to people over the age of 65. Although true, Medicare is an incredibly complex and specific system that is confusing for me, a 22 year old who was trained extensively on it during my orientation with MRC. If it’s still confusing for me, imagine how confusing, and at times, infuriating, it can be for people over 65.

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