I hope your summers have ended well and that you are all settling back into school or whatever you may be up to at this point. I have been at Brandeis for three weeks, jumping right from my internship into CA training, and from that to classes. Although my internship ended on a “good note,” for all intents and purposes, I still have work to do.
Just in case I did not clarify sooner, AVODAH, the organization for which I interned this summer, is a Jewish non-profit organization, which works towards bringing social justice-oriented Jews into significant roles in antipoverty organizations, influencing Jewish communities to do likewise. The word avodah in Hebrew literally translates to “work”, hinting at the difficult work at hand in the effort to eliminate or at least ameliorate the causes and effects of domestic poverty. A Jewish proverb delineates the same concept, stating that “it is not on you to finish the work, and you are not free to exempt yourself from it.” There may be large, overwhelming steps in the process of reaching the goal at hand, but you can’t back away from it.
This proverb perfectly expresses what has been on my mind since my completion of the internship. I have learned a tremendous amount about the inner-workings of a non-profit organization, as well as the goal of the organization and especially pertaining to alumni and community engagement strategy. I have begun to think critically about my role as a leader in multiple subsets of the Jewish community, and how my experiences at AVODAH can bring others to think similarly about issues of domestic poverty and Jewish communal involvement. I look forward to contributing and facilitating programming on the Brandeis campus and perhaps beyond, bringing others to better understand and contribute to a more socially and economically just society. I have much to learn about antipoverty work and urban poverty in the United States, but I have a good foundation on which to build greater understanding.
I have also an enormous amount of respect for all the AVODAH staff members. Each and every one has great expertise on how to run this crucial organization, and has helped me understand how their job contributes to the larger picture and how my work added to their project. Finally, I have to thank my supervisor, Rabbi Stephanie Ruskay, for teaching me about what it is to be passionate about Jewish antipoverty efforts and how to bring knowledge and personal experiences into the work setting in a productive way. I hope to continue the relationships I have built with my supervisor as well as other AVODAH staff members, as I see them as invaluable guides to that particular field and trailblazers in progressive Jewish communal efforts.
As I plunge into this semester and what it may bring, I will have an increased awareness of the world around me, and have a better grounding in what I can do to contribute to a more sustainable and socially just community and society. I am grateful to have been able to give you all snapshots of my experiences, and hope that you all have meaningful semesters and feel free to ask any questions you may have about my internship.
Thank you for reading, and best of luck to you all!
Hannah Z. Kober