What I Learned from my Internship with JCRC
August 8, 2019
Posted by: Rebecca Ezersky, Intern
Growing up, one of the Jewish values that spoke to me the most is Lo Ta’amod Al Dam Rey’echa or, in English, to not stand idly by. Hillel confirms this sentiment, saying, “If I am not for myself who shall be for me?” A verse in Deuteronomy commands us, “tzedek tzedek tirdof — justice, justice you shall pursue.” While I have always admired this recurring, and clearly significant, Jewish value, I have struggled with putting it into action. I was unsure about what I, as an individual, could do about seemingly intractable societal and political issues such as gun violence, climate change and economic inequity. My struggle was heightened as I began to decide what I wanted to do as a career. How could I convert my mere desire to stand by Jewish values of justice into a concrete profession? Where and what is the intersection of Judaism and the workplace?
These questions were answered during my eight-week internship at JCRC. While researching different pieces of legislation, practicing public speaking and improving my Excel skills, I also learned about what it means to be a Jewish professional in today’s society. I was surrounded by individuals who committed themselves to initiatives like Invest in Peace, which works towards a future of peace and prosperity between Palestinians and Israelis. I watched one of my supervisors, Jessica Trubowitch, speak at a Jewish community event about what we can do to be an ally to immigrants. Every day, I would look at a sign on top of my desk that read “coexistence is resistance” and feel myself motivated to take action towards the causes that I believe in. I began to realize that, for me, being a Jewish professional means to truly stand by core Jewish values, and to use those values to not only better the Jewish community, but also the way that the Jewish community interacts with the world.
Working at JCRC is an everyday reminder that I can pursue justice not as an aside to Judaism, but because of Judaism. I am excited to return to school with a renewed commitment to be civically engaged and to stand in solidarity with other ethnic and faith groups. I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity to learn and grow through my contribution to JCRC this summer, and I am elated to apply my newly acquired set of skills to the issues, intractable though they seem.