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AVODAH The Jewish Service Corps Inc

Rating: 4.81 stars   77 reviews

Nonprofit Issues (NTEE):

Community Service Clubs, Judaism, Philanthropy, Public & Societal Benefit, Religion

Address:

45 West 36th Street 8th Floor New York NY 10018 USA

Mission:

AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps engages young people in direct work on the causes and effects of poverty in the United States. Participants in our service Corps program live out and deepen their commitments to social change and Jewish life through a year of full-time work at anti-poverty organizations in Chicago, New Orleans, New York, and Washington, DC.  This work partners Corps members with service providers and residents in low income communities and equips our Corps members and alumni to emerge as lifelong agents for social change, whose work for justice is rooted in and nourished by Jewish values. After participants complete this intensive one-year program, AVODAH’s partnership with American Jewish World Service provides a broad platform for long-term leadership in social change and Jewish life.

Geographic areas served:

United States

Programs:

See schedule ofounded in new york city in 1998, avodah is training the next generation of jewish leaders through its service corps, which places post-college young adults (ages 2126) in a year of full-time service at antipoverty organizations. During the year, corps members live together in an intentional community and participate in weekly educational programs designed to give them the skills and networks to prepare them to become leaders. Over the past sixteen years, avodah corps members across four cities (new york, chicago, new orleans and washington, dc) have directly improved the lives of 533,000 individuals and added an estimated $13 million in staffing capacity to 150 local antipoverty organizations. "avodah" in hebrew means "work" or "service", and the combined meaning can be understood as one's "life's work". Avodah's service corps program has led participants to a sustained commitment to working for justice. A recent survey, facilitated by outside evaluators, about how the program influenced the trajectory of participants' lives found that: - 75% (3 out of 4) say that their current job involves antipoverty or social justice work; - 92% say avodah set them on their current professional path; and - 85% say that avodah helped them find their place in the jewish community. There are close to 700 alumni living across the united states and other parts of the world and they have assumed leadership roles across the jewish and nonprofit communities - as professionals, lay leaders, clergy, organizers, activists and volunteers. Avodah alumni receive advanced leadership training, networking opportunities, and support to foster their development as jewish leaders. In addition to the program's transformative impact on participants, avodah also makes significant contributions to its nonprofit placement agencies and to the low-income communities it serves. As local antipoverty organizations face increased demand for services coupled with declining funding, avodah's high-quality, cost-effective staffing model offers agencies a real solution. In their placements, avodah corps members build the capacity of avodah's partner agencies to directly address many of the issues faced by poor communities, including limited access to healthcare, housing, food security, and educational opportunities. Avodah's partner agencies consistently report being able to offer their clients new and expanded services as a direct result of having an avodah corps member on staff. In 2012, approaching its 15th year and 500th service corps member, avodah began to ask how it could extend its impact and scale even further, and longer term, create organizational and financial efficiencies. To this end, in january 2014 avodah launched the avodah fellowship (the "fellowship"), a new leadership development program for professionals early in their careers working to address the causes and effects of poverty. Based on a curriculum grounded in jewish thought and learning, the fellowship provides mentorship, training, community, and networking opportunities to support emerging jewish professionals engaged in the antipoverty field, while integrating participants into avodah's extensive alumni network of social justice leaders throughout the country. To date, the fellowship has engaged over 35 individuals in 2 cohorts and has exceeded avodah's expectations. Evaluations completed by the first cohort include: - 100% reported a deepened understanding of how social activism and jewish life intersect. - 95% reported that the fellowship strengthened their connection to jewish values. - 95% reported that the fellowship strengthened their connection to jewish identity. - 82% reported better understanding the causes and effects of poverty. - 94% reported sustained/strengthened commitment to do work on economic and social justice.

2009 Top-Rated Nonprofit
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Reviews for AVODAH The Jewish Service Corps Inc

Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

I have been involved with Avodah for over 10 years and have been profoundly impacted by the organization. As a participant in Avodah's service corps, I had the opportunity to learn all about Judaism and social justice. I did the service corps in Chicago and my year in Avodah gave me authentic insight in the social justice community and work happening in Chicago. After completing my service corps year in Chicago, I continued to stay involved with the Alumni community and network in Chicago. Through this network, I am regularly invited to engage in learning and actions related to both local and national social justice issues. Additionally, Avodah has given me a Jewish home. The Avodah Alumni network has provided me with a Jewish community who I can spend holidays with and celebrate life milestones with. When I joined Avodah in 2006, I had no idea that the organization and program would so profoundly shape my adult life. I am so grateful for the ways Avodah built me as a Jewish leader of social justice-- and the ways in which Avodah does this for so many others.

 
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Review from Guidestar
Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

I had the distinct privilege of being involved with Avodah as a participant in the NYC fellowship, which equipped me with tools and insights to be more impactful and find more meaning in my job in public health. Shortly after the program ended, I took part in a women's leadership coaching program through Avodah with other alumnae, which played a powerful role in helping me chart a career path that feels inspiring and motivating. Today, I'm a proud board member of the organization, and the relationships I've built through my involvement with Avodah form the heart of my Jewish community. The Avodah community helps me see myself as a powerful agent of change, pushes me to think critically about the impact I have and can have in the world, and is a constant source of inspiration and joy.

 
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Review from Guidestar
Rating: 1 stars  

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.

 
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Rating: 1 stars  

3 people found this review helpful

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.

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

3 people found this review helpful

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.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

my job

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

incorporate more leadership by corps members in the educational/communal progamming

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

being part of a cohort of young adult jews

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

generally awesome!

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

start in a new city!

Ways to make it better...

I had made more use of the resources available

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

funding, providing jewish programming that's accessible and challenging to participants with such a wide range of backgrounds and interests

One thing I'd also say is that...

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-8-01

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

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.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the lives of real people as well as government policy. Avodah's year long service program is so unique, & fills a need for dozens of nonprofit organizations across the country doing incredibly worthwhile work.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

change the world. In all seriousness, Avodah is already changing the lives of both its Corps members (many of us have decided to dedicate our lives to work with the most vulnerable members of society), & it also has a life-changing impact on our clients.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

One time

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-1-01

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

A truly meaningful, life-changing experience. I became more aware of the world I live in while also learning about myself. I met amazing people and connected to a community that inspires and accomplishes incredible things.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the inspiring people and experiences.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-6-01

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

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.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

reach out to every nonprofit and provide them with a valuable, knowledgeable service corp member who would work for limited income.

Ways to make it better...

I had been to israel, or knew Hebrew, I could have had a deeper understanding about Judaism and connection with the other ind.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

One thing I'd also say is that...

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-10-01

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

My experience with Avodah has been transformative. It has changed my vision of the world and how Judaism and social justice are important in my own life.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

serve clients at antipoverty organizations throughout the country and could develop hundreds of young Jews into leaders in the movement for social justice

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-10-01

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

Housing Unlimited, Inc. (HUI) is fortunate to have an Avodah participant-- Joshua Neirman-- work full-time this year with HUI. Josh has been an outstanding addition to our staff-- he cares deeply about our mission (HUI provides affordable housing to low income adults with psychiatric disabilities), he is very kind and respectful towards the people we serve, and he is a true team player-- happy to chip in with the large and small tasks that must be completed to keep HUI up and running. The Avodah supervisory staff is very organized and communicate regularly and clearly with HUI to ensure everything is going smoothly.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

deeply concerned about tikkun olam-- about making the world a better place for the most vulnerable amongst us.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-10-01

 
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