This is the first profile in a series highlighting the work Jewish Organizing Fellows and alumni are doing to fight for justice.
Joanna Lubkin, alumnus 08-09:
When Joanna Lubkin began college at Clark University, she was in love with Jewish ritual and culture. But once she graduated, Joanna realized that her BA in Jewish Studies wasn’t enough. She wanted a way to connect her passion for Jewish life with her commitment to social justice. Joanna decided to pursue a Masters in Public Administration, but after completing it she was still searching. Enter the Jewish Organizing Fellowship.
“I applied for the Jewish Organizing Fellowship hoping that it would teach me practical skills to create social change. It did far more than that. The Fellowship and my placement at a union for medical residents radically transformed me. I learned to address the root causes of social problems rather than focusing on band-aid solutions. I learned to ask probing questions, tell my story, and develop leaders who could effectively take action. I also began to envision the world as it could be.
“Unexpectedly, I found incredible mentors in the rabbis who led our Fellowship trainings. These rabbis had found inspiration for their social justice work rooted in Jewish tradition. They had helped congregations understand the connections between justice work and the Jewish community’s spiritual heritage.
“When it came time to find a job after the Fellowship, I returned to the Jewish community with a renewed vision of the work I need to do in the world. I realized that I need to work within the Jewish community because if I am going to create change in this world, I need to start among my own people, where I feel at home. I want to ensure that Jews can bring their whole selves to their community. I want to foster a Jewish community in which we can act together on our values and make the world a better place. I knew then that I did not want my Judaism to be a performance, or an intellectual exercise. I wanted to dig in with both hands and help my generation to make it their own. So, in the fall of 2010, I began rabbinical school at Hebrew College. I credit the Jewish Organizing Fellowship as helping me realize that becoming a rabbi and creating Jewish communities that act together for a more just world is exactly what I want to be doing.”