Homepage image of Avodah, which is starting a San Diego branch. Image via avodah.net

Jewish Family Service of San Diego is partnering with national anti-poverty organization Avodah to open a San Diego branch of the program, the groups announced Tuesday.

Avodah San Diego will be the fifth branch of the program nationally. Other branches are in Chicago, New Orleans, New York and Washington, D.C.

Program participants will be able to join the Jewish Service Corps to help alleviate problems of poverty. Avodah has worked on issues such as criminal justice reform, affordable housing, education, healthcare access and more by providing members of its service corps hands-on, full-time service positions at local organizations addressing poverty and inequality.

The San Diego group will be introduced this summer, offering a yearlong program. Members live communally and receive a full curriculum that provides Jewish education and religious context for their work.

Avodah — which is Hebrew for work, worship and service — was founded in 1998 and has taken more than 1,000 corps members to nearly 300 social service agencies in New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and New Orleans.

“In launching Avodah San Diego, we are building a pipeline of leaders in the region that will impact the local Jewish community and its work toward social justice for many years to come,” said Avodah CEO Cheryl Cook.

“We are especially looking forward to having a significant local impact on the current immigration-related issues facing San Diego, one of the main points of entry for refugees, asylum seekers, and other immigrants, as more people are fleeing their home countries for safety and freedom than ever before. By bringing our time-tested program to this region of the country, we will build and strengthen a network of Jewish leaders eager to support immigrants and refugees and fight for justice on their behalf.”

The organization’s work has added nearly $20 million in capacity to social service agencies and has assisted more than 700,000 people, officials said.

“Jewish Family Service served nearly 40,000 individuals in the San Diego region last year, providing much-needed assistance in the areas of nutrition, transportation and immigration services,” said JFS CEO Michael Hopkins. “We are excited for Avodah to bring and develop future leaders in San Diego where they will amplify and enhance the critical work JFS and our partners are undertaking every day.”

— City News Service

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