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Education, leadership development, and advocacy from a progressive Jewish platform
The Jewish Center for Justice is a distinguished social justice, education, and leadership development platform that empowers current and future leaders to build a more compassionate and just society.
A diverse movement and community spanning generations and denominations, JCJ connects Jewish justice activists with unique opportunities to formulate their voices and make a real impact on issues such as immigration, gun violence prevention, economic justice, climate change, and more.
“Engaging with JCJ on campus has enriched my college experience by providing the tools and confidence I needed to raise my voice for justice, as well as a better understanding of how my activism is intrinsically linked to my Judaism.”
— Kevin Gibson, UC Berkeley
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By Lindsay Morgenstein
I was in high school the first time a friend posed the question that would come to define much of my future trajectory. Asking “Are you a Republican or Democrat?” would soon open my eyes to how politics shapes the world around us. While I was determined to find an answer to my friend’s question, I realized how little I knew about our state and national political systems.
At age 14, I began my own personal political revelation. In the four years following, I became actively engaged in politics through marches, meetings, conferences, and direct action. I have made weekly calls to my senators urging them to support legislation on issues ranging from climate change to cabinet confirmations, and I’ve attended every march I possibly could.
When I turned 18, casting my vote became the most clear and effective tool for me to engage politically. While I was grateful to exercise the right to make my voice heard at the ballot box, I couldn’t stop thinking about those who – like myself just a few years prior – were not yet old enough to vote. Thinking about my own activism prior to voting, a number of key questions emerged.
I asked myself, “How could my actions have been more effective?” To obtain to this answer, I began to wonder what first interested me in politics; why exactly did I initially become passionate about activism and changemaking? I realized it was neither a political party nor a candidate that captivated me; activism exhilarated me because of the connection to Judaism. These reflections revealed my desire to provide young teens with opportunities to passionately engage in advocacy and activism from a Jewish perspective. Judaism is full of compassion and service; learning to channel this kindness into a hunger for a brighter world captivates me.
I am filled with excitement and curiosity to accept an internship at the Jewish Center for Justice. During my eight weeks at JCJ this summer, I hope to ask and answer the tough questions around teen political engagement, and create a comprehensive and effective plan to inspire under-18 youth to become politically engaged for years to come. This will be even more important leading up to the 2020 election, as Jewish youth are a vital piece in creating a more perfect union. Through a thorough and intense study of the needs of Jewish teens, JCJ can better engage them in political action and activism, which will benefit our communities and nation immensely.
Having a values-oriented approach to political action yields open and honest conversations about how our nation ought to be, and youth are a key part of that conversation. While they may not yet be able to vote, Jewish teens are extremely capable and deserving of a seat at the table. Their refreshing interpretation of sacred Jewish ideals is key to nationwide progress. If harnessed properly, their passion and power can change minds, policies, and history. I believe JCJ’s unique devotion to Jewish values and culture will enable young people to have an impact in the political sphere.
Of the many reasons I chose to attend Duke University, political activism in my youth was one deciding factor. As a first-year student, I’ve become involved with the Hart Leadership Program’s Service Opportunities in Leadership (SOL) cohort, which encourages students to utilize community-based research to provide our chosen community partner organization with tangible resources from our summer work. During my time with JCJ, I plan to use community-based research – the process of establishing personal connections to observe and understand an organization’s constituency – to forge local and nationwide partnerships with politically active and justice-minded teenagers.
Through a deeper understanding of the passions and prerogatives of American Jewish youth, I will be able to answer many questions I have had about youth political engagement. At the conclusion of my internship, I intend to present a plan that will outline how we can work to better include, support, and empower youth voices in politics.
Lindsay Morgenstein is a public policy and history major at Duke University and member of the JCJ Campus Activism Fellowship cohort.
By Gabi Becher Throughout my seven years at a small, warm Jewish elementary school in Los Angeles, I was taught to love being Jewish and to love the state of Israel. The culture, food, language, history and people have always fascinated me. Further, when I met...read more
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 13, 2019 Contact: Max Rosenblum 818-304-4551 LOS ANGELES — In response to Governor Gavin Newsom’s executive order to place a moratorium on the death penalty in California, Jewish Center for Justice Executive Director Rabbi Joel Thal Simonds...read more