Avodah is structured so that only individuals with privileged backgrounds can succeed in their position. It is basically set up as a year for recent college grads to feel good about themselves while they continue to take money from their parents. For those who participate for different reasons and don't have a safety net, they cannot live off the stipend and keep up with the house social scene leading to burn out due to the onerous work, high demands, poor social support, and no financial pay off. Worse it's represented as something it's not. I'm three years out and still look back at the experience as a waste of time and a poor use of my skills.
AVODAH is by far the most ableist and financial inaccessible "volunteer" experience I've ever had. I had to resign from my position early fpr health related reasons, and the organization promptly kicked me out of my house with two weeks until my next lease started, one day notice (against DC tenant law) and nowhere to go. This was against the expressed wishes of my fellow corps members (whose needs, I think, should be the organization's top priority) and while still mandating that I pay rent for the next three months (after working for a year under the minimum wage and while struggling to cover medical expenses). I am both shocked and disappointed that AVODAH-- as an organization that prizes itself being equitable and social justice oriented -- has no clause in its contract acknowledging mental/ physical disabilities as potential barriers to completion of serve. Throughout my departure process, I was made to feel like my situation was in some way my fault, and was made to compensate AVODAH financially for making a decision that my doctor recommended. I find it hard to fathom that I am now in debt to an organization which I was working for in a stipended position, after leaving for a health issue that I already hold much shame in. As one of the few corp members without the buffer of family support to fall back on, I was constantly made to feel like I was asking for special privileges for not being able to manage the 60+ hours of commitment per week that AVODAH expects from it's corp members (with site placements, programming, house meetings, mandatory community activities, etc), while balancing outside responsibilities that none of the other corps members had. No wonder the organization primarily attracts volunteers from certain socio-economic and familial backgrounds! I loved my corps members and respect my program director and her intentions, but feel strongly that the structure of the program is completely inaccessible to folks who don't identify with certain brands of Judaism and/ or have needs that fall outside the "norm". I therefore couldn't in good faith recommend it to anyone strongly committed to grassroots social justice work.
As a AVODAH corps member, I spent a year living in a communal house and working in a local nonprofit. The AVODAH program and staff were very supportive around the communal living stuff and work stuff, did not push me Jewishly as much as I had hoped.
Through AVODAH I had an incredible year working with low-income seniors in New York City. I was part social worker, part pharmacist, and part advocate on behalf of hundreds of Medicare beneficiaries, and my work during AVODAH led me to attend law school. In addition to being the spark that I hope will develop into a rewarding public interest legal career, I made some incredible friends throughout the year - people who have supported me through tough times and celebrated with me in the good times.
AVODAH is amazing! It provides young Jews with an opportunity to expand their Jewish sense of identity at time when we are unstable with who we are and where we stand in the world. An instant community of Jews and like minded individuals are basically served to us on a golden platter, as well as real world experience serving people and communities that are important to us.
As an AVODAH Corps Member, I had the opportunity to live together with other Jewish young adults, exploring together the connection between Judaism and Social Justice, and working full time at a non-profit. We had very meaningful workshops weekly covering topics from housing, to racism, to mental health. It also gave me the opportunity to explore my Jewish traditions and learn about others'. AVODAH was a positive step to get into the world of non-profit. After my year in AVODAH my organization offered me a full time position and I am still employed there. I still actively engage with AVODAH, interacting with new corps members as well as alumni.
AVODAH provided exposure, experience, and support in the social service world, all within a Jewish, social justice framework. My positive experience was a major factor in my decision to pursue an MSW/MPH degree.
AVODAH is a year long service program, similar to Americorps. The experience that I gained in this program strengthened my knowledge of the field I currently work in and strengthened my commitment and passion to social justice. The friends I made while in AVODAH, have been a source of support and encouragement to me.
AVODAH is an amazing program (!) which provides Jewish individuals an experience to learn about social justice within the context of a Jewish framework. For me it was a year of meeting passionate individuals, who work towards the issues they believe in. AVODAH provides young college graduates with an experience of working with various marginalized populations. It is a year of growth and learning. It was a very important year in my life and in my growth of learning and understanding what I value and what is important for me to work towards.
I found my year with Avodah privoded an invaluable job experience, fabulous educational experience. and I found friend for life who share my values and interests.