2019-2020 Eisendrath Legislative Assistant, Religious Action Center
Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Sociology, Minor in Judaic Studies, 2019
Describe your job responsibilities:
I manage one of the legislative portfolios for the Religious Action Center, the social justice hub of the Reform Movement in Washington D.C. My portfolio includes criminal justice reform, civil rights and racial justice, the death penalty, Israel, anti-Semitism, and foreign policy. Day-to-day varies, but overall I’m tracking legislation and news, working with coalition partners to coordinate advocacy efforts, and lobbying Congress through letters and in person.
Importantly, I also am working with the legislative team to run the programming for the L’Taken Social Justice Seminar for high school students to learn about a variety of social justice topics and how to advocate for their views with lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Some other responsibilities include working with a cohort of congregations seeking to work on racial justice issues, internally and in coalition with outside groups on systemic change, and assisting the RAC-NY team that advocates for change on the state and local level.
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
What I really love about my work is that it is much more focused on what we can do right now, building off of a history of Jews fighting for change. We focus on what can we do to show up for our allies, to push for legislation to protect the most vulnerable, to fight for justice, and to continue creating a legacy of Jewish social justice now, and that is rewarding.
Tell us about studying at the Frankel Center:
I came to the Frankel Center a little late in my college career, seeking a more in-depth understanding of Jewish history. I was able to take a wide variety of courses, touching on the history of Jews in the Modern world, the history of American Jewish women, blacks and Jews in the Arab world, and the Arab-Israeli Conflict. Attending events like “Antisemitism Today” and “Jewish Feminism American Visions” was extremely impactful in helping me understand history of these specific issues and how they shape the context we’re in today.
How did your education prepare you for your current job?
Almost everyday I find myself referencing something I learned from inside and outside the classroom. Overall at the Frankel Center, I gained more context of where my people came from, and a long history of social justice – from the Labor Movement to the Civil Rights Movement to the Feminist revolution and beyond. In my classes, it was especially exciting to learn about the beginning of the Reform Movement and Jewish organizations, similar to and including the one I work at today, and understanding the influence these organizations had in their day and continue to have at present.
What advice would you give to students who are considering studying Judaic Studies?
It was a fantastic supplement to the work I was engaged in within other classes and in extracurriculars. It allowed me to delve deeper into a subject I only knew from growing up, but I had never fully grasped where it all came from and how it was connected. Even outside the Jewish world, it is beneficial in learning about a specific people as a case study for people who have been othered and persecuted, helping us better understand the current plight of others facing restrictive immigration policies; rising white nationalism, xenophobia and Islamophobia; and more.