An Open Letter from the 2013-2014 Eisendrath Legislative Assistants

August 8, 2014
Today is our last day as legislative assistants at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. None of us imagined on August 20, 2013 – our very first day – that this year would have gone by so fast. It is has been an incredible honor to serve and represent our vibrant, passionate Movement in Washington, D.C.; one that we will cherish always. Looking back on our first days, we are humbled and proud of the work that we have been so lucky to participate in, from seeing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act pass the Senate for the first time, to testifying in support of the EPA’s Carbon Pollution Standards; from working with the RAC and UN Foundation’s Malaria Fellow participants to raise funds and awareness for malaria prevention, to a new executive order on minimum wage for federal contract workers; and from seeing the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, to monitoring the Supreme Court’s rulings in Town of Greece v. Galloway and Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores. Not only have we been immersed in the inner workings of Washington, D.C., we have had the pleasure of working with the bright and thoughtful young people of our Movement at our L’Taken Social Justice Seminars, Machon Kaplan Summer Internship Program, and the programs we helped run for the new NFTY Social Action Vice Presidents and students participating in Mitzvah Corps. Engaging teens and young adults on the issues that inspire them continues to inspire us, and we know that the work we have started together this past year will be carried on l’dor v’dor, from generation to generation. Helping them understand their role in politics - as young people, as Americans, and as Jews - was and is an indelible privilege. It goes without saying that we are forever indebted to the RAC staff. We know we are unlikely to find another work environment that combines great purpose with great fun. Thank you all for shaping our LA year with your unerring patience, guidance, support and humor. Each member of the RAC staff has left a lasting impression on us, but we would be remiss not to individually thank the following people: David, on many occasions, you have floored us with your profound insight on the myriad of policy issues on which we work. But, it is your leadership and the way that you turn values into action with deep Jewish underpinnings that will always be unforgettable gifts. It is has been a privilege to work here, and much of that is due to you. Rachel, each of us has had the pleasure of working closely with you. We can now say that we are stronger advocates, have a better knowledge of Washington strategies, and have gained a greater sense of purpose in our work. Thank you for that very formative opportunity. Michael, thank you for helping each of us find our abilities to teach the issues we care most about and for making us laugh uncontrollably during the “Ps of L’Taken.” It is no surprise that the RAC programs are such a success under your leadership. Expect to see us at late-night lobby preps! Barb, David may have hired the first LA, but we know that this program would not exist as it does without you. You have answered every one of our questions, silly, stupid or not; you have helped us take our ideas and run with them, and you have not only kept us going through what felt like major obstacles, but encouraged and inspired us along the way. As we transition to new and different opportunities, we know we’d be hard-pressed to find a boss as wonderful as you. We also want to thank the members of the Commission on Social Action – it was a true pleasure getting to know you over the year, and we are so happy to have been your all-too-brief partners in furthering tikkun olam. To the leadership and members of the Union for Reform Judaism, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, Women of Reform Judaism, Association of Reform Zionists of America, the North American Federation of Temple Youth and the many other affiliates of our Movement who have embraced us and given us this incredible opportunity – todah rabah! To the 2014-2015 class of Eisendrath Legislative Assistants, good luck! We know you’ll do great work—and we're thrilled you’re joining the RAC family! As we prepare to close this chapter, we remember this teaching from Pirkei Avot: "It is not your responsibility to finish the work [of perfecting the world], but you are not free to desist from it either" (2:16). This year, we have engaged with a broad range of social justice issues in order to fulfill our mandate to l’taken et haolom, to repair the world. While we have not seen our work come to completion, we are proud to be a part of a Movement that has always prioritized social justice and that will continue to fight for equality and justice for all people. We are blessed to have been part of this journey. Thank you, we’ll miss you. L’hitraot, The 2013-2014 Class of Eisendrath Legislative Assistants

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