Transformative Teshuvah

A guide for your Jewish justice practice 365 days a year from the Avodah Institute for Social Change

At the Avodah Institute for Social Change, we recognize change and contemplation as year-round activities. This guide is meant to support you in taking on that work year-round, affirming that justice is central to who we are and the world we envision regardless of the month or holiday. We invite you to use this guide as inspiration for your continued reflection and engagement in social change and all of its various facets. We are so grateful to be in this work with you.

In solidarity, the team at the Avodah Institute for Social Change

Introduction by Sarra Alpert, Director, Avodah Institute for Social Change, 5782/2021

The previous year-and-a-half included seismic shifts in the ways we see, face, understand and discuss injustice. From the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic to racial justice uprisings to threats to democracy to ongoing catastrophes of economic, climate, carceral and housing injustice, we have seen even more deeply how all of those intersect. As we head towards the start of this new year, many of us are trying to find our way back to what feels like normal. But we have to remember, in the words of Sonya Renee Taylor, “Normal never was.” It is essential that we not turn away from all that we’ve seen and learned about the deep inequities that have recently led to even more death and suffering than before. Our tradition provides an ideal opportunity each year for exactly this kind of personal and communal work on our accountability and growth, and this resource is offered as a way to take advantage of this period of extended reflection.

Transformative Teshuvah from the Avodah Institute for Social Change contains a series of text studies, tools for reflection, artistic interpretations, and activities providing different pathways to explore the question: How do we turn towards change?

Each section includes sources for reflection created by a range of rabbis and Jewish educators. This resource is designed to be used in as many different ways as possible. You might decide to engage with one piece of learning each day in the weeks leading up to and through the High Holiday period or delve deeply into a few of these learnings over the holidays. However you explore this, we hope it will offer a pathway for deep introspection, additional learning, and ways to orient ourselves towards sustained and effective engagement in work for justice.

Thank you to our generous collaborators for their support in creating this resource:


Special thanks to Rabbi Aryeh Bernstein for co-editing

Sarra Alpert

Rabbi Aryeh Bernstein

Jonah Canner

Imani Romney-Rosa Chapman

Rabbi Nate DeGroot

Anna Dubey, Raphaela Gold, Sophie Raskin & Michael Pincus

Koach Baruch Frazier

Noah Gibbons-Shapiro and Hayden

Rabbi Gabe Greenberg

Beth Huppin

Inside Out Wisdom and Action Project, Hannah Roodman & Yehudah Webster

Rebecca Katz

Rabbi Rory Katz

Alana Krivo-Kaufman

Rabbi Miriam Liebman

Jamie Margolin

Shahanna McKinney-Baldon

Ruth Messinger

Not Free to Desist

Kendell Pinkney, S’manga Frank & Avi Amon

Rabbi Aaron Portman

Hila Ratzabi

Rabbi Jennie Rosenn

Caroline Rothstein

Melissa Shaw

Rachel Sumekh

Rabbi Alana Suskin

Akiko Yonekawa


Ritualwell logo
Reconstructing Judaism logo
Dayenu logo
Hazon logo
Mitsui Collective logo
IOWA Project logo
Not Free to Desist Logo
JFREJ logo
Uri L'Tzedek logo
Aytzim logo
URJ Logo
RAC logo
Moving Traditions logo
RAC logo
Keshet Logo

Team Avodah

Sarra Alpert, Alison Rollman, Amanda Lindner, Davinica Nemtzow & Marissa Smith-Kenny