In 1998, Rabbi David Rosenn and a small group of activists and educators from across the spectrum of the American Jewish community launched Avodah with the support of seed funding from UJA-Federation of New York’s Commission on Jewish Identity and Renewal. We started in New York City with one house of nine Corps Members in Brooklyn. At the time of its launch in New York, our Jewish Service Corps was the only program of its kind: a domestic program providing young Jewish adults the opportunity to work full-time on poverty issues while exploring the connections between that work and their Jewish lives.
Within two years, we expanded from one house to two, and eventually grew to nearly 25 Corps Members serving in New York City per year. We’ve built and maintained strong partnerships with leading nonprofits throughout the city, like the Urban Justice Center, the New York Legal Assistance Group, and Sanctuary for Families.
And you don’t have to look far to see the impact of our alumni in New York. Avodah alumni live and work acorss the area, taking action on a wide range of social and economic issues. You can find our alumni doing anything from leading housing organizing efforts in Brooklyn to teaching nursery school parents at the JCC Manhattan how to talk to their kids about social justice.
A few examples of how our alumni are leading in New York:
• We placed Aaron Dobish with the housing organization Common Ground in 2000, and he’s still there today, working as their Associate Director of Housing Operations.
• Lani Santo is the Executive Director of Footsteps, providing services for formerly Ultra-Orthodox Jews after they leave their communities.
• Denny Marsh served as a Corps Member with Neighbors Together from 2004-2005, and today she’s their Executive Director.
New York is our flagship site, our national homebase, and the laboratory where we develop and pilot new programs. In recent years, we’ve launched the Avodah Fellowship, and are expanding our efforts to engage the Jewish community and beyond in this work.
In 2021, Avodah launched our first-ever Jews of Color (JOC) Bayit in New York City. We are excited to create an environment in our Service Corps to nurture the leadership of our JOC participants and help guide them on their journeys in movements for social change.
hours served in New York
New York families and residents served
New York placement agencies
Our Corps Members live and learn together in a supportive, pluralistic community at the crossroads of justice and Jewish life while working at leading anti-poverty nonprofits. Learn more about the organizations that we serve.
Alex V., United Jewish Council of the East Side (UJCES)
Alexandra S., Educational Alliance
Chessy S., Sanctuary for Families, Center for Battered Women’s Legal Services
Danny K., HIAS
Elliot P., New York Legal Assistance Group
Ethan S., Comprehensive Youth Development, Inc.
Gideon S., Met Council on Jewish Poverty
Ilyssa F., New York Legal Assistance Group
Jolie P., Neighbors Together
Katy T., New York Legal Assistance Group
Leora S., The Brave House
Lily R., New York Legal Assistance Group
Nathan A., Hazon (Jewish Youth Climate Movement)
Rachel K., ECPAT-USA, Inc.
Sam M., Medicare Rights Center
Sarah L., Met Council on Jewish Poverty
Shanie K., Footsteps
Sophie C. Sanctuary for Families- Anti-Trafficking Initiative