I hope your summers have been treating you well! Recently I have begun to work at AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps, interning in for the director of Alumni and Community Engagement. Before I get too far into my experience this summer, it is best I outline my thoughts and goals going into this new workplace.
First of all, this is my first internship lasting over a month, and I am most looking forward to having the time and opportunity to become better acquainted with my work environment, including all of the people I will meet of the duration of the internship. I likewise hope to learn a lot about non-profit management, office culture, and work ethic from my co-workers and mentors.
Even further than that, I would venture to say, I am determined to also better understand the work of the organization as a whole. AVODAH has two programs running currently: the Service Corps and the Fellowship. The Service Corps is a post-college gap year program in which young Jewish adults engage in serious antipoverty work in four US cities. While working for separate organizations, the Corps members live together and learn about the Jewish ethical motivations for pursuing social justice. The Fellowship has brought in crowd of Jewish adults based in New York who are already working for antipoverty organizations and gives them the opportunity to get to know one another and similarly learn about social justice through a Jewish lens. I anticipate having the opportunity to meet some of these incredible AVODAH participants (which you’ll hear more about below). Through my department and daily tasks, I am interested in learning about the paths alumni take following completion of the program, and how much they bring their work into their adult lives and Jewish experiences. So far, I have done a lot of data organization to better reach our alumni.
The first exciting event to take place since I have started was the launch and success of the 48-hour flash-fundraising online #BeGenerous campaign. The idea was to ask alumni to be actively involved in funding alumni programming. In just that short period of time, the goal of reaching $10,000 was met, to our elation. Now we’re up to the “Thank You” notes for everyone’s tremendous efforts!
During my first week I had two very unique experiences that had me jump right into the work at hand. The first of which was an assignment to create a logic model for alumni programming, which will be included in a grant application in the near future. In the process of creating the chart, I had to outline the purposes and goals of the alumni network, as well as project statistics of what could be considered successful outcomes with respect to the goals. After only one full work day I had a pretty good idea of scope and aims of the program; namely to encourage alumni to get to know one another and bring the larger Jewish community into the world of antipoverty work and community organizing from a Jewish lens.
The second of these instances was on my third day, when I had the opportunity to go to an evening program for the Service Corps and Fellows, discussing faith-based community organizing. My supervisor and a representative of the Micah Institute facilitated a conversation regarding their own experiences in the Jewish and Christian communities, respectively, and addressed the questions of the audience. After the panel, I joined the smaller group discussions, focused how each of the participants planned on bring social justice and antipoverty work into the Jewish community. The diversity in Jewish background added much nuance to each of our answers, and I was honored to have the opportunity to get to know the corps members and fellows who were in my group. This was also valuable to my understanding of what the outgoing participants would like to see from AVODAH after completion of the program, and how we can better equip them to be leaders and teachers in the Jewish community who move their peers and constituents to work to alleviate the causes and effects of poverty in the US.
My supervisor claims that the most pressing question in the world of community organizing is “what keeps you up at night?” This, she believes, is the ultimate way to tap into the motivations and energies of a social justice activist. I’ll be honest and say that at this point, unlike many of the AVODAH participants, I don’t know enough about the causes and effects of poverty in the US for that to be what currently “keeps me up at night.” I would like for that to change, as I am learning more about the facts on the ground and the work that can be done to improve the situation in the United States.
I look forward to sharing more with you later this summer! Enjoy, and keep your eye out for my next post!
– Hannah Kober ’16