This blog doesn’t have any profound insight or prescriptions for change. It is simply an expression of the great sadness I and so many other Canadians feel about yesterday’s horrifying attack on Parliament Hill. That sadness, and wishes for a full recovery, extends to those who were injured by the gunman and, of course, the family of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, who was standing guard at the National War Memorial when he was shot in the abdomen and killed.
As we finish up the last full week of our Jewish year, it’s been typically hopping at the RAC. Our program team of Michael Namath, Shira Zemel, Daniel Landesberg and Ariella Yedwab spent three days at the URJ’s Kutz Camp brainstorming, role-playing and case-studying along with the URJ’s Youth Division Staff, all with an eye to making our many youth-oriented RAC programs (L’Taken, Machon Kaplan, etc.) even better than they already are. Back here in DC, the LAs were zipping around from congressional hearings to mark-ups to meetings to briefings on Israel, voting rights, religious freedom and more.
The new Legislative Assistants jumped into work this week and are already busy with meetings, research, writing press releases and more. Get to know the class of 2014-2015 before you meet them at the October CSA gathering. I know you’ll enjoy working with them as much as we do.
This morning, the new LAs visited the Israeli Embassy and met with its Director of National Initiatives, a.k.a Katharine Nasielski (RAC LA 2011-2013). The meeting was an excellent opportunity to hear directly from Israel’s representatives in the U.S. about their priorities and interests – and an equally excellent opportunity to show off yet again the fantastic professional successes of former LAs.
The news this week that an extended ceasefire was reached between Israel and Hamas is a much welcomed development after more than five weeks of heightened hostilities and the tragic loss of innocent lives. We pray that the ceasefire proves lasting and that future generations will know the reality of a lasting, just and meaningful peace.
The Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Class of 2014-2015 began work on Tuesday and is deep into the orientation program. This is my favorite time of year, when the new LAs infuse the office with their energy and enthusiasm, but also because it’s an excuse for me to invite former LAs back to the RAC to teach the new class.
In 1987, my parents announced that we were moving from New York to Montreal. I adapted quickly, as kids do, but in truth the cultural gap between the U.S. and Canada wasn’t THAT wide. The radio stations still played Madonna, I watched “The Cosby Show” on NBC broadcasting from Vermont, and I learned to put the “u” in “colour.” I also came to love figure skating, like my Coffee Crisp, and tolerate schools’ obsessive demands that students write in Hilroys (google it).
What I also come to appreciate about my time in Canada was the perspective it gave me on the United States. With distance, I could contrast life in two robust countries, both with strong commitments to democracy, rule of law, rights and liberties, but which have expressed different societal priorities.
In my 13 years at the RAC, I’ve had more than a few memorable days (and nights) at work. I’ve been to bill signings at the White House, gone to a Mexican border town with the Commission on Social Action to see our national immigration challenges up close, and rocked out to some late night concerts at URJ Biennials.
But when people ask me what my best day has been, the answer is easy: April 25, 2004, the day of the March for Women’s Lives. That was the day I literally carried the banner for the URJ – marching with our delegation of nearly 3,000 women and men, congregants and rabbis, WRJ members and NFTYites, and about 300 L’Taken teen social justice seminar participants the RAC happened to be hosting that weekend. Read more…