Avodah: Meet Our Corps Members

Hi, my name is Orli Hendler; Hi my name is Hailey Berger; My name is Ezra Hollander. My name is Arielle Kafker;
I’m Isabelle Nelson; Sophie Kerman; Reuben Siegman. Hope Glassman; Eliana Herman; Leah
Parker Bernstein; I’m Ezra Oliff-Lieberman and I’m an Avodah Corps Member in New
Orleans; I’m an Avodah Corps Member in Washington, D.C., Washington, D.C.; New York City, New York City; New Orleans; D.C.; Chicago, Chicago. I work with people who
are living outside or in shelter. I support tenants in their building
campaigns specifically in affordable senior housing, doing client intakes
following up with legal documents assisting our attorneys in court and we
work with detained immigrants providing them legal services that helps folks who
are interested in exploring the world outside of or leaving ultra Orthodox
Judaism, helping people get transportation to their doctors
appointments, helping people fill out public benefits applications. People who
are 70 years old and up who I visit each twice a month and take them out to
lunch or just visit them or go to museums. Mass incarceration intersects
with so many other social justice issues so when a client comes into our office
where we’re thinking about their housing needs, we’re thinking about their
education needs, their healthcare needs. There are so many compounding
barriers that stack on top of each other to make it challenging for people who
are experiencing poverty. So many people don’t have access to strong communities
and don’t have people that can support them in different things. There is
something to be said about the important work that community organizers and
people in social justice organizations do, working in the immigration system and hearing those people say I want to be here because I know this can be a great
country really restores my hope and faith because we are so much more than
this point in time. Give people the benefit of the doubt and think about
their circumstances in their entirety. I feel really proud of any member that I
get to see achieve amazing things. I feel like I played a role. Oftentimes
the Jewish community sees poverty as being outside of our sphere. It’s not
just about giving out resources. It’s about building a relationship to find
out what people need. When I grew up, tzedakah was something that was this far
away thing. You just gave money and that was your way of helping the world. And I
think this experience has helped me come to realize that the relationship
building and the ability to understand someone else’s true challenges is the
biggest way to work towards building a more just community. Compassion, care, and
having really difficult conversations are ways that the Jewish community can
really truly open its doors to people of all Jewish backgrounds. For me, being able
to come back and do direct service work in the community where I grew up has
been very, very powerful. Elderly people kind of get pushed to the side and
they’re not as included in communal or private life, and I think a great
movement forward would be incorporating them and seeing that they have a lot to
share. I think about the Jewish telling that “to save life is to save the world”
pretty often in my work. I feel that helping give a client back the dignity that they
feel they are not getting really is so important and it’s a feeling that I’ll
carry with me for a long time.

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