The artwork on this note card was created by 5768 WRJ Art Calendar artist Césan d’Ornellas Levine.
With another L’Taken season ended, and preparations already beginning for next year, the current class of legislative assistants spent some time reflecting on their experiences working with the teens and chaperones who come to Washington, D.C. to learn about social justice and Jewish values with us.
Tyler Dratch: “I love watching our students find their voice at L’Taken. L’Taken empowers them by providing space to explore the intersection between important issues of social injustice and our Jewish textual tradition. We ask the students difficult questions to help them to connect these issues to their own lives, and we give them to the tools to become advocates for the rest of their lives. I love listening to the personal stories students tell in their advocacy speeches because they are always so moving and remind me that student voices can really make a difference. When students leave L’Taken, it is clear that they have been changed. This will not be their last time coming to Capitol Hill.”
Jacob Kraus: “I always looked forward to hearing L'Taken participants reading their speeches to us on Sunday evening. Not only was I impressed by how thoughtful and well-written each student's speech was, but I particularly appreciated the opportunity to listen to the students' personal stories about their connection to the issue they wrote about. Regardless of the topic, each group offered a compelling story about why they cared about it. Some stories were heartbreaking, others were inspiring, but all of them continue to remind me of why I and my fellow RAC staff members are engaged in this important social justice work every day of the year.”
Rachel Landman: “Attending L’Taken seven years ago, while I was in high school, was my first exposure to advocacy and to the RAC. This year, working with the teens at L’Taken – hearing their insightful comments during shuk programs; working through speeches on Sunday nights; and accompanying these passionate advocates to Capitol Hill – has definitely been a highlight of my time at the RAC. Each week, I learned from students as we discussed how our Jewish values relate to global health and brainstormed actions we can take to combat climate change. Hearing students read their speeches and share their personal stories about why they are passionate about the issues that we work on, provided and continues to provide inspiration for the work that I do every day. Each week as we joined together as a community to learn about and pursue justice with participants and chaperones attending their first L’Taken or their 20th, it served as a reminder of the deep commitment to social justice that the reform Jewish movement has.”
Adam Waters: “One of the most meaningful parts of L’Taken for me was to see how excited the students were to learn about and advocate for criminal justice reform. This was the first year we offered a criminal justice program at L’Taken, and heading into the first conference of the season, we were unsure whether participants would be open to engaging with such a complex and controversial topic. I found, however, that the hundreds of students I had the pleasure to teach over the course of the season were not only interested in criminal justice reform, but also came into the programs with a wealth of knowledge and a commitment to take action. Bringing these passionate students to Capitol Hill and watching them advocate their elected officials to support comprehensive sentencing reform was a truly inspiring moment for me as an educator, a policy advocate and a representative of the Reform Movement in Washington.”
Tracy Wolf: “As a Legislative Assistant, my days are steeped in social justice. But, it is sometimes easy to lose sight of the reasons why I am here doing this work in the first place. L’Taken helped me to put faces to the 1.5 million Reform Jews that we represent here in our nation’s capital, and to the justice that we are fighting for. One my favorite parts of each weekend was hearing the teen’s speeches, as it was particularly special and important to hear their stories about how these issues of social justice impact them personally. Now, when I come into work every day, I am even more motivated to help repair our world.”