This summer, I am interning at AVODAH at their New York office. AVODAH works to alleviate poverty, mainly by running a service corps program. In four cities, New Orleans, Chicago, Washington D. C., and New York City, corps members live together while working at different, local anti-poverty non-profits and organizations. The wide range of issues that corps members, from immigration to criminal justice to housing to youth programs to community mediation programs as well as many other issues, allows for a diversity of corps members with a wide range of skills and interests. AVODAH has also recently started a fellowship in two cities, New York City and Chicago, for people in the social justice field with full time jobs. Instead of living together, as in the service corps program, participants go to a variety of educational sessions, retreats, and events to grow their career and explore the intersection between social justice work and Judaism. (More information can be found here).
I work under the Recruitment Director, so my focus is helping find places to recruit applicants. Since AVODAH has a fairly small staff, it is impossible to recruit individually at every university in the United States. I am helping to find more ways to recruit applicants with their limited staff. It is important to find qualified applicants from a wide range of backgrounds and colleges across the country.
I have also enjoyed helping other Jewish social justice organizations. With interns from AVODAH and other Jewish organizations, I helped to put together mailings for Bend the Arc. Bend the Arc planned a “Vigil Against Violence” on the anniversary of the deaths of three civil rights activists, James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, in 1964 in Mississippi. The three activists, two of whom were Jewish, tried to register Black voters. In honor of their commitment to social justice, Bend the Arc held vigils where people lit yahrzeit (Jewish memorial) candles. They also mailed out kits with posters and candles for people who would not be able to attend a vigil. The vigils took place in multiple places around the country, but especially in New York at Trump Tower to protest Trump’s Islamophobic rhetoric and proposals.
I think these vigils were important, but on a more general level, I think it is important for Jewish social justice organizations to have strong relationships of collaboration with each other, as well as with non-Jewish organizations. This is one of the goals of the service corps programs, as alumni of the program go on to work for a wide variety of social justice organizations, creating a large network of alumni that can turn to each other for support and collaboration. I am excited for this summer because I will continue to learn more about the domestic non-profit world, but specifically the Jewish non-profit world.
Lydia Ruddick-Schulman ’17