Jeff Gluckman participated in AVODAH in 2007-2008 in Washington, D.C. He continues to work at his AVODAH placement organization, Metro TeenAIDS, as the evaluation and program development manager.
What motivated you to join the City Team?
After my year in AVODAH, I went from living with nine great people and being a part of a larger community to being on my own. I really missed creating programs for people I cared about, and I thought it would be a great opportunity to do it on a larger scale.
Had you been involved with the AVODAH-AJWS Partnership beforehand?
I just finished AVODAH in August and went to some of the alumni programming here in D.C. afterwards. I was part of the weekly Justice and Jewish Thought class, engaging with texts related to different topics in Jewish justice. It was informal peer-learning, and we traded off facilitating. It worked out really well; I got to meet a lot of great people from all sorts of places and create a mini-community of folks who are really engaged. I now have a good launching point to do future things.
What are your expectations for your year on the City Team?
I'm looking forward to doing broad outreach to places where we might not have reached out before. I know we've done a good job of engaging the alumni communities, but for other folks who may not have participated in programs with AVODAH or AJWS – who nonetheless are still really involved and have an active Jewish life and an active justice life – we are still looking to bring them into the community. I'm also looking forward to planning innovative programs that meet people's needs in terms of what they want to be doing with their time.
What are you working on right now with the City Team?
We are just getting started and doing one-to-one interviews with folks in D.C. who have leadership potential and are connected to other communities. We are talking to them about what kinds of things they might want to see in the city and how they might get involved. After that we'll start to plan some bigger events. There are a lot of great new ways the City Team can use our skills and connections to really broaden how folks tie together their Jewishness and their passion for justice. I think everyone on the D.C. team brings a lot of good experience and diversity to that quest.
What do you do when you're not at City Team meetings?
Professionally, I'm the evaluation and program development manager at a local HIV education and care organization called Metro TeenAIDS. That was my AVODAH placement and I stayed on in a different capacity. It's been great. I love being involved in direct service programming. We also take a step back and focus on identifying new needs for the communities that we work with and assess where our programs' strengths are and where they can be improved. In my spare time I spend a lot of time with my AVODAH community, having services, cooking and going to events.
How does Judaism play a role in your life?
I think Judaism gives me a framework that is really rich in history, mythology, theology and politics, to ground myself when I do my work. I feel like I can be much more productive in my social and political activism when I do it as a Jew. Working with Jewish history and texts and having a place of grounding and a community of support to sustain the work is fabulous.
Contact Jeff and the DC City Team at [email protected].
- Avodah Updates
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