AVODAH

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AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps seeks to strengthen the Jewish community's fight against 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.[1]

History

The organization was founded by Rabbi David Rosenn, and a group of activists and educators from across the spectrum of the American Jewish community. Some were religious; others not. Some worked in the nonprofit world; others were educators or rabbis or graduate students. Dedicated to the notion of "AVODAH" — a Hebrew word which encompasses spiritual, communal and work-related "service" — they joined forces to create the first and only Jewish service corps.

Launched in New York in 1998 with one house of nine participants, the program doubled within a few years. In 2002, AVODAH began a new program in Washington, D.C. which quickly grew from nine participants to fifteen. In 2005, AVODAH opened its third site in Chicago with 9 participants.

In 2008 AVODAH was expanded to New Orleans, opening a fourth site.

In March of 2010, Rabbi David Rosenn left AVODAH after serving as Executive Director for 13 years and started as Deputy Director at the New Israel Fund, a grantmaking organization that works to promote democracy, human and civil rights, and a strong civil society in Israel.

Currently expanding to Chicago, New Orleans, and Washington, DC, AVODAH is now planning the next phase of growth. By 2012, AVODAH plans to more than double the number of participants in their one-year program, bringing the total to more than 100 each year.

Sneiderman Announced as Exec. Director

On July 8, 2010, an AVODAH press release announced that Marilyn Sneiderman had been selected to be Executive Director of AVDOAH. The release reads as follows,

Marilyn Sneiderman to become Executive Director of AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps
July 8, 2010-- Marilyn Sneiderman has just been appointed Executive Director of AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps. Sneiderman replaces Rabbi David Rosenn, who served as AVODAH’s founding director for 13 years. Sneiderman will begin her duties on July 26, 2010.
“AVODAH’s Board of Directors is proud to have Marilyn assume the helm. Marilyn has a long history of commitment to social justice issues, a deep attachment to her Judaism, and has been connected with AVODAH for many years. I'm confident that she will take our organization to new heights,” said Steven Dow, AVODAH’s Board Chair.
Sneiderman has spent much of her life as a community and union organizer dedicated to fighting poverty. Prior to coming to AVODAH, Marilyn worked at B’nai Brith Youth Organization (BBYO) as Deputy Director and Chief Field Officer. During her tenure at BBYO she revamped their entire field organization to help transform BBYO into one of the country’s premier Jewish teenage leadership development organizations. Prior to joining BBYO, she directed the Department of Field Mobilization for the AFL-CIO from 1996-2005. Under Sneiderman’s leadership, she launched a national initiative designed to unite community, union, religious, and civil/immigrant rights groups regionally and nationally to campaign for decent jobs, better schools, and social and economic justice in communities around the country.
“I believe that Marilyn is the ideal person to build on AVODAH’s success. She’s a highly skilled organizer, a great institution builder, and someone who personifies AVODAH’s commitments to Jewish life and social justice, “ said Rabbi David Rosenn
Sneiderman earned a Master's Degree in Social Work from University of Wisconsin-Madison, and has served on the faculty at three universities: Georgetown University Law School, the University of Illinois, and at Cornell University. From 2003 to the present, she has served on the National Board of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund. She also co-authored a booklet entitled, Labor in the Pulpits with Kim Bobo of the National Interfaith Worker Justice.
“I am thrilled to be joining AVODAH and continue my passionate pursuit of social justice and service work in the Jewish community. I look forward to working with the staff to lead AVODAH into its next phase of growth,” said Sneiderman.
The Board of AVODAH selected Sneiderman following an extensive national search.
AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps was founded in 1998 to strengthen the Jewish community’s fight against the causes and effects of poverty in the United States. AVODAH does this by engaging participants in service and community building that inspires them to become lifelong agents for social change whose work for justice is rooted in and nourished by Jewish values.
Each year AVODAH recruits young Jewish adults from across the US and Canada – and from the full spectrum of Jewish backgrounds – to spend a year working full-time at anti-poverty organizations in New York, Chicago, New Orleans, and Washington, DC.
The AVODAH experience continues after participants complete the year-long program. Pursue: Action for a Just World, a project of AVODAH and American Jewish World Service, offers alumni and other young Jews ongoing opportunities to make change together within and beyond the Jewish community. Pursue connects young people at the intersection where their Jewish values meet their passion for social justice, building a community that takes action to create social change.

Personnel

Staff

As at April 4, 2011, the following worked for the organization:[2]

Chicago Office:

New Orleans Office:

New York Office:

Washington DC Office:

AVODAH/AJWS Alumni Partnership:

Board of Directors

As at April 4, 2011, the following served on the Board of Directors:[3]

Chicago Advisory Council

As at April 4, 2011, the following served on the Chicago Advisory Council:[3]

New Orleans Advisory Council

As at April 4, 2011, the following served on the New Orleans Advisory Council:[3]

Washington, D.C. Advisory Council

As at April 4, 2011, the following served on the Washington, D.C. Advisory Council:[3]

Corps Participants

The following were Corps members in 2011:[4]

Chicago:

  • Alizah Benchetrit, from Vaughn, Ontario, attended the University of Toronto and is a Community Advocate at Apna Ghar.
  • Oren Brandvain, from Farmington Hills, MI, attended the University of Michigan and is the Youth Leadership Coordinator at Quad Communities Development Corporation.
  • Jill Bratt, from Overland Park, KS, attended Goucher College and is the Office and Volunteer Coordinator at the Chicago Women’s Health Center.
  • Talia Cheifetz, from Toronto, Ontario, attended the University of Ottawa and is the Assistant Activity Coordinator at Friedman Place.
  • Debra Fricano, from Little Neck, NY, attended Brandeis University and is a Community Organizer at Lakeview Action Coalition.
  • Benna Kessler, from Durham, NC, attended the University of Chicago and is a member of the Program Staff at CJE Senior Life.
  • Andrea Kramar, from Tarzana, CA, attended the University of California Berkeley and is a Social Services Assistant at The Ark.
  • Ben Levine, from New York, NY, attended the University of Rochester and is a Youth Leadership Corps Member at Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corporation.
  • Liz London, from New York, NY, attended Vassar College and is a Program Assistant atAmerica SCORES.
  • Rebecca Ratner, from Golden Valley, MN, attended Brandeis University and is a Housing and Supportive Services Assistant at Inspiration Corporation.
  • Dena Rennard, from Omaha, NE, attended Grinnell College and is a Youth Coordinator with The Resurrection Project.
  • Daniel Riff, from Palo Alto, CA, attended Washington University in St. Louis and is a Housing Resource Specialist at Heartland Alliance.
  • Rosa Saunders, from Edmonton, Alberta, attended McGill University and is a Program Associate at Free Spirit Media.
  • Ali Terkel, from Broken Arrow, OK, attended the University of Kansas and is the Resident Activities Coordinator and Advocacy Assistant at Supportive Housing Providers Association
  • Daniel Weyl, from Hillsborough, NJ, attended Beloit College and is a Reception and Placement Case Worker at Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago.
  • Eleni Zimiles, from Brooklyn, NY, attended Macalester College and is an Assistant Community Resource Coordinator at America SCORES.

New Orleans:

  • Mollie Flink, from Deerfield, IL, attended List College, a joint program of Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary and is an Education Program Coordinator at Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association.
  • Dana Keren, from Milwaukee, WI, attended the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee and serves as the Community Coordinator at the Tulane Community Health Center at Covenant House.
  • Rachel Laing, from Hudson, NY, attended Skidmore College, and is a Teaching Assistant at Success Prepatory Academy.
  • Sarah Murray, from Reisterstown, MD, attended Goucher College and is a youth advocate at Juvenile Regional Services.
  • Ross Peizer, from Seattle, WA, attended Boston University and is the Intake Assistant at Rebuilding Together New Orleans.
  • Elena Pinksy, from Silver Spring, MD, attended Northwestern University and is an Outreach Coordinator at the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center.
  • Mitio Rothstein, from Westlake Village, CA, attended Eckerd College and is a Volunteer Coordinator at the Center for Ethical Living and Social Justice Renewal.
  • Tamar Toledano, from Elkins Park, PA, attended the University of Pittsburgh and is an Art Speaks Coordinator for Ya/Ya.
  • Leah Varsano, from Northampton, MA, attended Vassar College and is the Assistant Neighborhood Coordinator at Jericho Road Episcopal Housing Initiative.
  • Maggie Yates, from Spokane, WA, attended Macalester College and is an Education Advocate at Southern Poverty Law Center.

New York:

  • Avital Aboody, from Sherman Oaks, CA, attended University of California at Berkeley and is the Tenant Organizer at Urban Homesteading Assistance Board.
  • Hasan Bhatti, from Chapel Hill, NC, attended Colby College and is the Case Assistant-Break Free Program at The Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services -Kaplan Center.
  • Robin Blanc, from Philadelphia, PA, attended Reed College and is the Matriculation and Alumni Support Assistant at Urban Assembly School for Law and Justice.
  • Rae Draizen, from Oakland, CA, attended Washington University in St. Louis and is the Early College Awareness Program Assistant at Achievement First.
  • Julie Finkel, from Columbia, MD, attended American University and is the Health Advocacy Fellow at Medicare Rights Center.
  • Allison Fisch, from Potomac, MD, attended the University of Michigan and is the Next Step Counselor and Teaching Assistant at Project Renewal.
  • Ryan Gerber, from Teaneck, NJ, attended the College of New Jersey and is a Paralegal at the New York Legal Assistance Group – General Law Unit.
  • Emily Hoffman, from Charleston, SC, attended Wesleyan University and is a Advocate at Neighbors Together.
  • Jennifer Katzman, from Morristown, NJ, attended Colby College and is a Program Associate at Sanctuary For Families.
  • Sara Lempert, from Portlola, CA, attended Columbia University and is the Legal Advocate at Urban Justice Center – Mental Health Project.
  • Jessica Levine, from Sherman Oaks, CA, attended University of California at Berkeley and is the Tenant Organizer at Tenants and Neighbors.
  • Sarah Linden, from Pittsburgh, PA, attended the University of Michigan and is the Case Manager at Red Hook Community Justice Center.
  • Elizabeth Lovinger, from Farmington Hills, MI, attended the University of Michigan and is the Community Organizing Coordinator at Gay Men’s Health Crisis.
  • Hilary Neher, from South Orange, NJ, attended Rutgers University and is the Legal Advocate at Urban Justice Center – Homelessness and Outreach Prevention Project.
  • Elana Rodman, from Boston, MA, attended Northwestern University and is a Paralegal at the New York Legal Assistance Group – Immigration Protection Unit.
  • Aaron Vinnik, from Washington, DC, attended Culver-Stockton College and is the College Advisor at Comprehensive Development Inc.
  • Micah Weiss, from Atlanta, GA, attended Wesleyan University and is the Special Projects Coordinator at Crown Heights Mediation Center.
  • Hannah Wizman-Cartier, from Montreal, Canada, attended the University of Pennsylvania and is the Legal Advocate at Selfhelp Community Services Inc.

Washington, D.C.:

  • Jenna Brofsky, from Lynbrook, NY, attended Brandeis University and will be working as a Legal Assistant at Capital Area Immigrant Rights Coalition.
  • Lizzie Busch, from New York, NY, attended Wesleyan University and will be working as a Community Organizer at Jews United for Justice.
  • Polly Clare-Rothe, from Oakland, CA, attended Weslyan University and will be working as the Legal Clinic Coordinator at Bread for the City.
  • Ana Forman, from Orinda, CA, attended University of California, Davis and will be working as a Volunteer Coordinator and HIV Prevention Educator at Metro TeenAIDS.
  • Julia Kann, from San Francisco, CA, attended Vassar College and will be working as a Legal Assistant at CASA de Maryland.
  • Yael Kiken, from Chicago, IL, attended University of Michigan and will be working as an Elementary School Program Coordinator at DC SCORES.
  • Kashmir Kustanowitz, from Minneapolis, MN, attended Goucher College and will be working as an AM Program Assistant at Thrive DC.
  • Michal Rosenoer, from Berkeley, CA, attended University of California, Berkeley and will be working as a Behrend Builders and Community Service Coordinator at the DC Jewish Community Center.
  • Tamara Rushovich, from Baltimore, MD, attended the University of Michigan and works as an Outreach Specialist at DC Central Kitchen.
  • Jacob Siegel, from Apple Valley, MN, attended Washington University in St. Louis and will be working as a Community Service and Volunteer Coordinator at Pediatric AIDS/HIV Care, Inc.
  • Melissa Stanger, from Rockville Centre, NY, attended Sarah Lawrence College and will be working as a Workers’ Rights Clinic Coordinator at DC Employment JusticeCenter.
  • Shayna Tivona, from Ashland, OR, attended Whitman College and will be working as an Associate Director at Housing Unlimited, Inc.
  • Ri Turner, from Ithaca, NY, attended Cornell University and will be working as a Medical Clinic Coordinator at Bread for the City.
  • Samantha Waxman, from Lexington, MA, attended Bowdoin College and will be working as a Basic Education Coordinator and Volunteer Coordination at So Others Might Eat.
  • Alyza Weinberg, from Ottawa, Ontario, attended University of King’s College and will be working as a Programs Associate at Thurgood Marshall Academy.
  • Lauren Weiss, from Shaker Heights, OH, attended Washington University in St. Louis and will be working as a Lethality Assessment Project Advocate at SAFE, Inc.
  • Rebecca Wener, from Maplewood, NJ, attended Mount Holyoke College and will be working as a Case Worker at La Clínica del Pueblo.
  • Larissa Wohl, from Maplewood, NJ, attended Bard College and will be working as a Wellness Center Program Assistant at N Street Village.

Financial Supporters

National support:

Chicago: Major support for the Chicago program has been provided by:

New Orleans: Major support for the New Orleans program has been provided by:

Washington, DC: Major support for the Washington, DC program has been provided by:

Major Donors September 2008-August 2009)

$10,000 AND UP

$5,000 - $9,999

$2,500 - $4,999

$1,000 - $2,499


Articles and Press Releases

Oregonians Fighting Poverty - The Jewish Review

References

  1. AVODAH: about (accessed on April 4, 2011)
  2. AVODAH: Staff (accessed on April 4, 2011)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 AVODAH: Leadership (accessed on April 4, 2011)
  4. AVODAH: Current Corps Members (accessed on April 4, 2011)