Posted on Dec 17, 2019
Executive Director, AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps, New York
Gershon Kekst Graduate School ’95
How do we engage young people in Jewish life? “Millennials are exceptional for their commitment to social justice and tikkun olam,” says Cheryl Cook, executive director of Avodah.
Avodah invests in developing young Jewish leaders devoted to ending poverty, while using Jewish values and living in a unique Jewish community. Cook credits the “genius” of founder Rabbi David Rosenn (RS ’97) for seeing the motivational power of a “domestic Peace Corps” grounded in Jewish thought.
“Avodah,” she explains, “works from a Jewish perspective to help emerging leaders craft thoughtful solutions to societal problems. We believe that Jewish values and Jewish community can be a source of nourishment and strengthen our commitment to creating a better world.”
Avodah corps members spend a year living communally while working with organizations on the frontlines of poverty and social justice and participating in an intensive educational program. The group boasts close to a thousand alumni, 75 percent of whom have pursued careers in antipoverty and social-justice work. Cook joined Avodah following nine years helping to grow the pioneering Jewish environmental organization Hazon. In each phase of her career, she says, “I’ve been honored to be part of creating a stronger and more just Jewish community and world.”