Jewish Organizing Fellowship + Empower Fellowship FAQs

We hope these answer all of your questions. If not, please feel free to contact Jihelah Greenwald at or 617-350-9994 ex 208.


Jewish Organizing Fellowship:

Empower Fellowship:

Who is eligible for the Fellowship?

Our year-long paid community organizing Fellowship in Boston is a year of field experience and professional development for young Jewish adults (21-30) looking for the opportunity to turn good intention and raw talent into concrete skills and action. What we’re looking for in Fellowship candidates:

  • A track record of leadership experience (paid and/or volunteer) addressing social problems.
  • The ability to connect with people and build strong relationships.
  • Strong communication skills, both in person and through email and other methods.
  • A sense of outrage in response to injustice and a deep hope for the future.
  • Self-knowledge about why making the world a better place matters to you.
  • Someone who self-identifies as Jewish and has an interest in exploring the connections between Judaism and social justice work.

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Do I need to have a college degree? Do I need professional experience?

No. We welcome applicants with and without college degrees. We look for applicants who have leadership or organizing experience; this often comes in the form of volunteer work.

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When does the Fellowship begin?
The Fellowship begins each year with the Opening Retreat in late August/early September. Most Fellows will begin working at their placements immediately after the retreat. However, some may arrange to begin working earlier in the summer.

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What is the difference between the early and regular round deadlines?

The main difference between the early and regular deadlines is that if you apply earlier, you will know sooner if you will be invited to the Interview Day on April 7, 2019, and can make travel arrangements accordingly. We will be in touch with you within a week of when you submit your completed application as to whether you are moving on to a phone screen.

Please see below for more information about the interview process.

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What is the interview process like?

The written application consists of an online form, a one-page resume, a personal statement, and two references. In order to be considered for the 2019-2020 fellowship class, all written application materials must be received by January 23, 2019 for the Early Round Deadline, or February 27, 2019 for the Regular Round (and final) deadline. Please click here for more details about the written application (including the personal statement prompt and reference form).

Applicants who pass the written application stage will then participate in an individual phone interview conducted by an alumnus or staff. These phone interviews will take place within two weeks of the application deadline.

Candidates who pass the phone interview will be invited to a day-long in-person, group interview in Boston. Candidates will participate in workshops and skills trainings and will be evaluated on a number of different criteria. The interview date for both the Early and Regular Round applicants will be on April 7, 2019. If you are accepted into this round of the interview pocess, you will be notified with more specifics.

Finally, a matching event will take place on May 13, 2019. Read more here.

This process is long and can be stressful for applicants, especially for applicants who don’t know anyone who has done the Fellowship before. This year, we are offering mentors or buddies to applicants who want to be connected to someone in the JOIN network who will not be evaluating them and can offer them support/answer questions. If you are an applicant who is interested in being connected to a mentor, please email with your request.

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What If I want to apply, but I will be unable to attend the interview and matching events?
You will not be disqualified from consideration for the JOIN Fellowship if you cannot attend the interview and matching event. Every year, we have applicants who are living abroad or who are otherwise unavoidably unavailable for these events. Although we consider the interview and matching events required, we will make exceptions when a candidate’s travel to the events is truly unfeasible due to emergency or other significant reasons. In these cases, we arrange for a second phone interview or web conference with the candidate.

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For whom would I work?
Fellows work for social change organizations that engage in a wide range of organizing models – interfaith or broad-based organizations, labor unions, neighborhood organizations, community development corporations, issue-based organizations, and others. These organizations address a wide range of social justice issues – housing, children’s rights, anti-discrimination, immigrant rights, health care, to name just a few – but their work includes a common goal: to build power with people who are directly affected by the issues they address. Fellows find placement organizations through the Matching process (see Interview Process), by finding organizing jobs on their own, and by coming to the Fellowship with their current organizing job.

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How do you choose placement organizations?
We look for partner organizations that will provide excellent opportunities for the emerging organizers who participate in our Fellowship to gain experience in community organizing. These criteria were developed to ensure that placement organizations will provide a supportive and challenging working environment for their Fellow, and that, in turn, our training curriculum will be most relevant to their organizational needs.

Placement organizations must demonstrate that they meet at least three of the five following criteria:

  1. The supervisor of the Fellow has significant organizing experience and/or is currently an organizer and takes primary responsibility for the development of the Fellow as an organizer.
  2. There is a demonstrated organizational commitment to organizing as a method used for social change.
  3. The Fellow’s work has a significant component of in-person recruitment and training of leaders.
  4. The Fellow plays a key role in a project or campaign the organization is undertaking.
  5. The project or campaign the Fellow works on is something that builds towards a measurable social justice goal in the outside world.

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What do you mean by “community organizing” and “social justice”?
Community organizing means developing leaders and bringing people together to form powerful organizations that allow people to act on their own behalf to make systemic changes in their lives. Community organizers are people who want to stir things up to motivate people to act for change, who embrace challenge, and who think strategically about power.

Working for social justice means seeking systems-level change, addressing social problems at their roots. We believe that justice would mean having sustainable, enduing, and equitable solutions to issues such as the environment, health care, education, housing, employment, and many others.

The organizations where Fellows work vary in the methods they use in their quest for justice. While our curriculum emphasizes relationship building, leadership development and organization building, the organizations where the fellows work do this in a wide variety of ways. We do not think that any one method of organizing for justice is perfect or the right way. Rather, we think that exposure to a number of methods, and reflection on their effectiveness is a good way to learn how to effectively organize for justice. This work always needs to be refined and re-defined, especially as conditions and generations change.

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How does JOIN support Jews with marginalized identities?

We view developing the leadership of Jews with marginalized identities as core to our mission of working for justice. We actively recruit and support fellows with marginalized identities, including but not limited to Jews of color, Jews with disabilities, Jews from working-class backgrounds, and transgender and gender non-conforming Jews. The fellowship includes an anti-oppression curriculum addressing issues of identity, privilege, and oppression. Additional support available includes the option of connecting with alumni mentors who share fellows’ identities, modifying programming to meet accessibility needs, a small fund for travel and moving, and one-on-one problem-solving and coaching. We continuously strive to further support the leadership of people with marginalized identities in the fellowship, and welcome suggestions and questions.

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What is the salary?
The salary varies. For fellows who find jobs through our matching process, the minimum salary is $31,000 plus individual health insurance, and fellows are typically paid $31,000-$37,000 (though there is no maximum).

For fellows who apply for their existing organizing job to be a placement, or find their own job outside of our matching process, we do not have specific salary guidelines.

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What is the curriculum?

The curriculum is designed to complement and deepen the experiential learning that Fellows do at their full-time organizing placements. The JOIN Curriculum challenges Fellows to explore central questions, rather than prescribing any one path for their journey as Jewish organizers. These four questions provide the frame for all the exploration that fellows do throughout the year:

  • Who am I as a leader?
  • How and why do I organize?
  • Who am I, Jewishly?
  • What can I/we uniquely contribute as a Jewish organizer(s)?

Read more about the curriculum and JOIN’s approach to organizing training.

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Friday Sessions
These sessions are the “glue” of the Fellowship program. In general, Fellows learn together about social change, Jewish heritage, and community organizing. The sessions draw on both Jewish and non-Jewish texts, and connect fellows with JOIN’s inspiring network of trainers (community organizers and Jewish leaders). In addition, they provide a space for fellows to discuss their work and provide and receive support on specific issues.

Typical Fellowship Friday Session:
9:00 Arrive, get settled, schmooze
9:10 Check-ins
9:30 Fellow-Led Learning session
10:30 Training
12:30 Announcements, Evaluation, Closing
1:00 Adjourn

Once per month, the Fellowship session takes place on a Friday afternoon instead of Friday morning, followed by a Shabbat experience led by Fellows and a potluck dinner.

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How do I find an organizing job?

We will introduce you to some jobs through our matching process. We also encourage you to apply to jobs on your own or join the Fellowship with a job you already have. All organizations, whether recruited by JOIN or identified by prospective fellows, must be approved by JOIN staff as Fellowship Placement organizations.

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Will the Fellowship help me with my student loans?
JOIN is committed to making the fellowship accessible to people from all class and economic backgrounds. Fellows have generally been able to defer loans since they are part of an educational program, but this ultimately depends on the requirements of the loaning institution. Please reach out to JOIN staff if there’s anything we can do to support you in this process.

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Can I find my own job? What if I already have a job?
You can find your own job or come into the program while in your current job. To do this, both you and the organization have to apply and be accepted to be part of the program. For more information on how potential placement organizations can apply, click here. If you are accepted as a finalist in the Fellowship, and your organization does not meet our requirements, you are still eligible to participate in our matching process to try to find another placement.

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Where do the Fellows work?
The group of placements changes each year. In the past Fellows have worked at places such the following Greater Boston area organizations:

  • Allston Brighton Community Development Corporation
  • Boston Youth Organizing Project
  • Cambridge Economic Opportunity Committee
  • Community Action Agency of Somerville
  • The Citywide Educational Coalition
  • Disability Policy Consortium
  • The Food Project
  • The Haitian Coalition (Somerville, MA)
  • Harvard Union of Technical and Clerical Workers
  • The Hotel and Restaurant Workers Union, Local 26
  • The Irish Immigration Center
  • The Jewish Labor Committee
  • Health Care for All
  • Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston (Boston, MA)
  • Keshet: making the Boston Jewish community welcoming to gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender Jews
  • Mass. Senior Action Council
  • Massachusetts AFL-CIO (Boston, MA)
  • MICAH: Metropolitan Interfaith Communities Acting for Hope
  • The Moishe Kavod Jewish Social Justice House
  • NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts
  • National Organization of Women, Boston chapter
  • Neighbor to Neighbor
  • The Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance
  • Parents United for Child Care
  • The Restaurant Opportunities Center
  • Roca, Inc.
  • Rosie’s Place
  • Service Employees International Union, Local 509
  • State Health Care and Research Employees/AFSCME (Worcester Memorial Hospital Union, Worcester, MA)
  • Somerville Community Corporation
  • Stand for Children
  • The Tax Equity Alliance of Mass.
  • Toxics Action Center
  • Twin Cities Community Development Corporation (in Fitchburg and Leominster, MA)
  • The Welcome Project (at the Mystic Public Housing Development in Somerville, MA)
  • The Workmen’s Circle
  • Young Democrats of Mass
  • United for a Fair Economy
  • United Interfaith Action
  • Youth Force, a program of Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation

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Is the Fellowship a full-time commitment?
Most Fellowship placement opportunities are full-time jobs. However, part-time jobs can also work as Fellowship placements. Placement jobs must involve at least 15 hours of organizing per week, in addition to 4 hours in Fellowship sessions.

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How often does the group meet?
The Fellowship years starts with a four-day opening retreat to build community within the group, and to orient the fellows to JOIN and our approach to organizing and Jewish pluralistic community. We then meet for four hours each Friday for intensive training, reflection, and community building sessions, and for a Shabbat service and potluck once a month There are two additional four-day retreats during the year. Fellows spend additional time on an optional fundraising project. Please check out the JOIN Curriculum.

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What about other resources?
For every fellow who is interested, JOIN connects fellows to an alumnus of the program who serves as a peer mentor to the fellow. JOIN also works to find other volunteer advisers, resource people and potential mentors for fellows. These are generally older community organizers, activists, non profit leaders, Jewish educators and others. Additionally, JOIN helps fellows connect to local opportunities for progressive and Jewish community, learning, and action.

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What else do I have to do?
As organizers, Fellows need to learn recruitment skills: both how to identify the values and self-interest of others, and how to get people to act. We encourage Fellows to support recruitment for the next Jewish Organizing Fellowship class as a way to practice these skills and support recruiting a strong cohort. If they choose to participate, Fellows will be supported in identifying potential applicants through social, campus, professional, and other networks.

Development (fundraising), or organizing money, is also a key skillset for organizers and social justice leaders. Fellows have the opportunity to build these skills through work towards a group fundraising goal, which will be set during the year. Fellows who choose to participate will receive development training on making financial asks and thanking donors and will participate in JOIN’s development process using these skills in 2–3 evening sessions. Fellows will build development skills as they also help build financial support for the fellowship program.

Fellows also take turns facilitating hour-long sessions on topics of their choice each Friday, and monthly Shabbat services. These roles require preparation outside of the group’s time together, with the support of the Fellowship Director.

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What if I am looking to make a longer than one year commitment to a job?
Some organizations are especially interested in fellows who would consider making an organizational commitment beyond the 1-year fellowship program. You are welcome to bring this up at the interview if the supervisor does not; many fellows and placements wait several months to see if it’s a good fit before discussing continued employment. A significant percentage of fellows stay on in their jobs for another year or more, generally at a salary commensurate with other staff, and some organizations may be looking for this longer commitment.

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Do I need a car?
Generally, a car is not required. However, organizing is not a desk job, and some jobs will prefer that their staff organizer be very mobile. If an organization requires a car, they will make this clear to potential employees early on in the process. Most organizations reimburse for mileage.

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What if I’m not a US citizen?
It is difficult, but not impossible, to join the Fellowship if you are not a US citizen. In the past, Fellows have come from Bulgaria, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and Israel. But it has been hard, and often expensive. For example, two former Fellows had to pay a special US organization to work through the immigration bureaucracy to get a valid work visa. For more information, please contact the JOIN office to discuss your individual situation.

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Who does the Fellowship?

Check out brief profiles and photos of our current Fellowship class and see more Alumni Profiles (once on that page, there are options in the right sidebar to see older classes of Fellows).

If you are interested but are not sure if the Fellowship is a good fit for you (or not sure if you’re a good fit for the Fellowship), we encourage you to go ahead and apply, or start by contacting JOIN staff at We want to hear from you! We are happy to discuss your questions, and/or to connect you with current Fellows or alumni who can share their experiences.

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How “Jewish” do you have to be in the Fellowship?
JOIN embraces Jewish pluralism as a core value of our community. Our program is for people who identify as Jewish and who are looking for an opportunity to experience many approaches to Judaism – from traditional to secular — through their relationships with other fellows and the shared experience of the group.

In the words of an alum:

While JOI[N] does incorporate a religious element, it does so in a way that respects the beliefs of all. In fact, it is up to the Fellows to choose how much religion should be incorporated into their Fellowship. My year featured a Fellow who didn’t believe in God and one that wanted to become a rabbi. Yet we got along and were able to craft Shabbat services that respected and made everyone feel comfortable.

Ultimately, JOI[N] realizes that being Jewish has a different meaning for every person. Differing traditions and viewpoints are not only welcome, but encouraged. So, don’t worry. JOI[N] has something to offer for every type of Jew. Oh, and I forgot to mention that it was one of the best and most meaningful experiences of my life.

–Aron Israelite
JOIN 2004-2005

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What is the Empower Fellowship, and how is it connected to the Jewish Organizing Fellowship?

The Empower Fellowship is a program for Jews with disabilities within the Jewish Organizing Fellowship. It will start in the 2019-2020 Fellowship year. Empower Fellows will be part of the Jewish Organizing Fellowship, engaging in all of the training, community, and mentorship that come with being a Jewish Organizing Fellow (as described above). They will also participate in 1–2 additional training sessions per month specific to their experiences as disabled Jewish organizers. JOIN will provide training and coaching to support the Empower Fellows’ placement organizations (employers) in being as accessible and inclusive as possible. JOIN will also offer placement organizations funding to help their hire their Fellows.

This new program is generously supported by Combined Jewish Philanthropies.

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How many Empower Fellows will there be in 2019–2020? How big will the whole Jewish Organizing Fellowship cohort be?

We expect that in 2019–2020 there will be 3–6 Empower Fellows. We plan to have a cohort of 10–15 Jewish Organizing Fellows, including the Empower Fellows.

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Who is eligible for the Empower Fellowship, and what do you mean by “disability”?

To be eligible for the Empower Fellowship, you must meet the eligibility criteria for the Jewish Organizing Fellowshipand also self-identify as a person with a disability, disabled person, or differently-abled, or be considered in that category legally, medically, or socially, due to experiences such as (but not limited to):

  • Physical disability or mobility impairment
  • Mental health, psychiatric, or psychosocial disability
  • Learning disability
  • Sensory disability, such as blind, low-vision, Deaf, hard of hearing, or DeafBlind
  • Chronic illness
  • Neurological or cognitive disability
  • Intellectual or developmental disability

We understand that people with these experiences have a wide variety of relationships with the term “disability” and the disability community. If you have one or more of the above experiences or other experiences that could be labelled “disability,” you are eligible even if you don’t typically call yourself “disabled,” a “person with a disability,” or “differently-abled.” (To learn more about why we use these different terms, see next question.) If you would like to talk about whether this opportunity is right for you, given your unique experiences, please contact Jihelah Greenwald, Program and Network Manager, at or 617-350-9994 x208.

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Why does this website say both “Jews with disabilities,” “disabled Jews,” “differently-abled Jews”?

In the disability community, as in most communities, people have a variety of perspectives on what language best describes us. Some people prefer identity-first language, such as “disabled person,” and others prefer people-first language, such as “person with a disability,” or other terms, such as “differently-abled.” There are a variety of reasons for these choices, and they are sometimes connected to what specific disability someone has and how and where someone has developed their disability identity. JOIN respects varied self-identifications. By using varied language, we hope to welcome a wide variety of people with disabilities/disabled people/differently-abled people, as well as people who are exploring their identities and may not be sure what terms fit them best. In the Fellowship, we will learn together about different language choices and explore what language we want to use within the cohort community.

There are many resources available to learn more about identity-first language and people-first language. This essay explains reasons for using identity-first language (focusing on the autistic community), and includes a variety of links to additional resources. This page explains people-first language.

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I’m a Jew with a disability. If I want to be in the Jewish Organizing Fellowship, do I have to apply for the Empower Fellowship?

No. If you are eligible for the Empower Fellowship but do not want to participate in the additional trainings and other opportunities, you are welcome to just apply for the Jewish Organizing Fellowship.

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What will I learn in the Empower Fellowship?

In sessions of the overall Jewish Organizing Fellowship, you will learn about community organizing, anti-oppression frameworks, and connections between Judaism and social justice. You can read more about the Jewish Organizing Fellowship curriculum here.

In the smaller Empower Fellowship sessions, discussions will include:

  • Learning the history of disability rights and justice movements, and how understanding this history can strengthen our organizing today
  • Knowing your rights as a disabled worker, understanding the Americans with Disabilities Act, and negotiating reasonable accommodations
  • Exploring individual adaptations to organizing practices based on your accessibility needs, strengths, and weaknesses
  • Intersections of Judaism and disability, through text study and religious perspectives as well as exposure to contemporary issues related to accessibility and inclusion in Jewish communities

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How will the overall Jewish Organizing Fellowship change in 2019–2020?

With the launch of the Empower Fellowship, we are also planning changes to the Jewish Organizing Fellowship program structure and curriculum for all Fellows. We will deepen our training about ableism and disability justice movements for all Fellows, and change aspects of the Fellowship such as timing, venues, and modes of teaching and discussion based on the needs of the group.

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Who is leading this program?

Allegra Heath-Stout, JOIN’s Fellowship Director and Trainer, has been directing the Jewish Organizing Fellowship since 2016. She is leading the planning process for the Empower Fellowship and will oversee the program and support Fellows. Allegra, a disabled Jew, has over a decade of experience in the disability rights movement. From 2012–2016, starting with her JOIN Fellowship year, she was an organizer at the Boston Center for Independent Living, building power with low-income people with disabilities to create change in areas such as healthcare, housing, and transportation. She got her start in organizing in college, where she founded Wesleyan Students for Disability Rights.

The program planning process is supported by an Advisory Committee of disability justice leaders and folks with deep relevant professional and lived experience. [Coming Soon: Bios about the Empower Fellowship Advisory Committee!]

During the Fellowship year, Fellows will learn from a variety of expert trainers, including disability rights and disability justice organizers, rabbis, and employment accessibility experts.

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How will JOIN make this program accessible and financially accessible?

We are committed to ensuring that all applicants can participate fully in the selection process, and that all Fellows can participate fully throughout the Fellowship year. We will talk with you to understand your individual accessibility needs and explore the best ways to meet them. We view accessibility as an ongoing process, and we understand that your accessibility needs or the accommodations you need may change throughout the year. We are not experts in every type of disability and support or access needs, but we are committed to access for all Fellows. We will draw on outside resources and experts, when needed, to learn how to best support each Fellow.

Making this program financially accessible is also a priority for JOIN. This year JOIN is excited to offer relocation assistance for individuals with financial need who are relocating to the Boston area. It is a small fund, but we are excited to have this offering available to those for whom it could make this opportunity possible.

If you have questions about how we would work with you to meet particular needs, please feel free to include that in your application, or reach out to Jihelah Greenwald at or 617-350-9994 x208.

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Where will Empower Fellows work?

Like all Jewish Organizing Fellows, Empower Fellows will work as community organizers at a variety of social justice organizations. Please see “For whom do I work?” above. We expect that some Empower Fellows may be interested in working at disability rights organizations, and that some will have a variety of other interests. There will be a matching process similar to that for the Jewish Organizing Fellowship as a whole (see above for more details).

Each Empower Fellowship placement organization will be committed to meeting their Fellow’s accessibility needs and fully including them within the organization. JOIN will provide training and coaching to help placement organizations improve accessibility and address any challenges.

We will work with each potential Fellow and each potential placement organization to make good matches, including exploring the fit between the candidate’s abilities and the requirements of the job.

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How do I apply for the Empower Fellowship?
To apply for the Empower Fellowship, please follow the application instructions for the Jewish Organizing Fellowship. As explained on that page, there are two additional questions for the Empower Fellowship applicants to answer. (They are at the bottom of the application page.) You can include your answers in your personal statement or put them in a separate document or video or audio file.

The application deadlines for the Empower Fellowship are the same as for the Jewish Organizing Fellowship as a whole: early bird deadline January 23, 2019, and regular deadline February 27, 2019.

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What if I have more questions or feedback?
We want to hear from you! This is a new program, and we are learning as we go! We welcome your input and questions. Please contact Allegra Heath-Stout, Fellowship Director and Trainer, at or 617-350-9994 x205

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Empower Fellowship supported by: