A Day in the Life of Machon Kaplan
On Monday night, Machon Kaplan turned up the heat with “Chopped”! Adding fun, flare and competition to communal eating, the RAC provided us with funds and time to cook a fabulous potluck meal. Between appetizers, entrees and desserts, our stomachs were the real winners (although, let’s be honest, my room rocked it out).
On a more serious, less food-related note, we spent Monday morning with RAC Director Rabbi David Saperstein, who taught us about religion in American politics and elections. We discussed the perceived conservative political trend within the Jewish community and whether this image bears out in reality. I realized what a big part religion plays in our political system; not only do our officials frequently exploit their religious affiliation for political gain, but they also employ biblical language in arguments. Rabbi Saperstein teased out the difference between utilizing religious references in an exclusive versus a universal manner. Finally, I was surprised to find that the American public not only prefers politicians with mainstream, monotheistic religious affiliations, but also those with minority religious beliefs are seen as more desirable than non-believers. Ultimately, this creates a tension between personal voting preferences and an inadvertent religious test for public office.
Finally, I must write about the amazing work I am doing at Jewish Women International (JWI)! I am rewriting our advocacy toolkit to ensure that it is accessible, inviting and informative for readers. We are also working hard to maintain provisions for LGBTQ people, immigrants and Native Americans in the Violence Against Women Act, and I have blogged about the shackling of pregnant inmate women during child labor, the status of feminist advocacy amongst Generation Y, and the role Cosmopolitan magazine plays in sex education when schools do not provide accurate materials (the last one will be published shortly). Check out my work and that of my fellow interns on the JWI blog!
Chelsea Feuchs is a participant in the Machon Kaplan Summer Social Action Internship Program. She is interning at Jewish Women International.