Guest Blog by Eowyn “Wyn” Garfinkle, University of Louisville student and Andrew Goodman Foundation Ambassador
I am a proud Jewish American, a descendent of Jewish immigrants. My Jewish identity is such an important part of me, and my Jewish values drive me to be a better person and strive for a better world. This is why at the University of Louisville, I study Communication and Jewish Studies, have served as the President of our Hillel for two years, and am a Vote Everywhere Ambassador for The Andrew Goodman Foundation.
In Pirkei Avot 2:5, we learn not to separate ourselves from the community. Furthermore, it is a Jewish value and responsibility to be an active member in our community. This extends to the obligation of voting and having our voices heard especially when it comes to picking leaders and representatives of our community.
The Jewish community has always played an important role in the fight for voting rights. Two incredible inspirations of mine are Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, both young Jewish people who made the importance of voting rights a big part of their lives. During the Freedom Summer of 1964, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, and James Earl Chaney were registering Black people to vote in Mississippi and were murdered by the Ku Klux Klan. Their deaths opened the eyes of many to the injustices that were happening in America, especially the need for racial justice and an equitable democracy. As I work to enhance civic engagement and voter participation in my community, I keep their legacies in my heart while continuing the fight for equal voting rights.
One way that I’ve been able to connect to the younger Jewish population is by finding cohorts where we feel safe and represented. On college campuses, this could be the local Hillel group, Chabad, or Jewish Student Union. As a former Hillel president, and current Andrew Goodman Foundation Ambassador, I always made sure my peers in Hillel had information about voter registration deadlines, early and absentee voting, and getting out to the polls. Partnering with these groups and centering our history and values is an important part of my voter engagement work with my Jewish American peers on campus.
The Jewish community understands our responsibility to have a say in the people who represent us and the obligation that we must create change for a better world. As a young Jewish person, I know that young Jewish Americans understand the importance of our voices, both alone and collectively. Our collective obligation to tikkun olam, repairing the world, is what drives us to make our voices heard. By making our voices heard through voting, each person can do their part in contributing to repairing the world.