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Alumni Spotlight

Anna Spitz

A.B. 2017 College of Literature, Science, & the Arts - Judaic Studies

A.B. 2017 College of Literature, Science, & the Arts - Psychology

 

Describe your job responsibilities:


I’m a full-time MPA student at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, concentrating in Urban and Social Policy and specializing in Technology, Media, and Communications. I am particularly interested in policymaking and governance at the local level, the public-private partnerships that can be leveraged to make local government more efficient with emerging technologies, and the ways in which technology can benefit those who have been historically marginalized.

This year I am working part-time as a public policy intern for Amazon. In my work for Amazon, I am fortunate to get to work on a wide range of policy issues from trade, to artificial intelligence, to empowering small businesses, to criminal justice reform. I research and track legislation for internal use, as well as interface with external stakeholders about ways in which Amazon can better benefit the community.

 

What is the most rewarding part of your work?


Knowing that I get to play a part in helping small business owners maximize their revenue, helping to make decisions about Amazon’s social justice funding, and learning about areas of policy that I haven’t previously explored. My colleagues are so smart and, as a public policy nerd, I feel lucky that I can have an expert-level rundown on any policy issue that I’m interested in.

 

Tell us about studying at the Frankel Center:


My Judaic Studies classes were a highlight of my academic undergraduate experience. I found my way to a degree in Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan by accident. I grew up as the rabbi’s daughter in my local community and felt pretty confident in my Judaic knowledge after graduating from a K-12 Jewish day school. When I got to Michigan, I decided to enroll in one of Professor Julian Levinson’s classes, thinking that I would get an easy A. I learned so much about Judaica in this intro-level class and became enchanted (and only earned a B+). I had never examined Jewish learning from a secular, academic perspective and it was like looking at my most important identity and ancestry in a new light. So I kept taking class after class in Judaic studies and eventually ended up majoring in it!


I want to give some additional shoutouts to inspirational teachers: Professor Elliot Ginsburg, Professor Rebecca Wollenberg, and Professor Deborah Dash Moore (DDM helped me land an internship with The Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization after graduation!). Each of these professors' teachings stuck with me and made a lasting impression.

 

How did your education prepare you for your current job?


I see much of the Talmud as policymaking. Studying with the Frankel Center was the first time I really opened the Talmud alone, sat down, and felt like I was spending time with the historical rabbis over the centuries discussing and reforming the best way for the Jewish people to live both individually and collectively. Examining the rabbis’ debates alongside critically analyzing the texts with my classmates truly sharpened my critical thinking.

 

What advice would you give to students who are considering studying Judaic Studies?

Studying Judaic studies is not just the study of Judaic studies. It is the study of literature, sociology, law, art, governance, and history. Even if you are only a tiny bit interested in Judaism in any sense, you will likely find a class with the Frankel Center that ties into your other interests and sparks new ideas within yourself.