AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps

AVODAH strengthens the Jewish community’s fight against poverty in the U.S. by training and supporting young Jewish adults, preparing them to become lifelong leaders for social change whose work for justice is rooted in, and nourished by, Jewish values and community.

Location: New York , NY
Year founded: 1998


Translated from Hebrew, “avodah” means “work” or “service” – or even “life’s work.” AVODAH is building and supporting a new generation of Jewish leaders committed to addressing the causes and effects of poverty in the U.S. AVODAH's Service Corps engages post-college young adults in a year of full-time service at local antipoverty organizations. During the year, corps members live together and participate in intensive educational programs, from community organizing trainings to workshops on urban poverty. Our Service Corps has transformed the lives of hundreds of young Jewish adults while equipping them with the skills, knowledge, and networks necessary to lead the Jewish community’s work for justice. Alumni credit AVODAH with launching their careers and strengthening their connections to Jewish community. The immersive year prepares participants to move forward as influential lifelong leaders for social change whose efforts will have a far-reaching impact on the Jewish community and, ultimately, on the alleviation of poverty. The year of service is only the beginning for these emerging leaders. Nationally, the AVODAH alumni network now includes close to 700 leaders fighting to end poverty in the United States. The majority continue their work with low-income communities as social workers, educators, clergy, and nonprofit, legal, and health-care professionals. In fact, 95% of corps members (past and present) affirmed that AVODAH strengthened their commitment to social justice – indeed making it their life’s work. In recent years AVODAH has expanded the ways we engage, support, and train alumni following their year of service, in order to both maximize the long-term impact of our investment in individual participants, and to transform our alumni community into a powerful network for change. In January 2014, AVODAH launched the AVODAH Fellowship, an intensive nine-month leadership training and community-building experience for early-career antipoverty professionals. This program is expanding our capacity to engage an ever-growing network of young Jewish leaders. By so doing, AVODAH continues to train and support the next generation of Jewish leaders working to eradicate poverty and fight injustice.

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