RAC Trip, Saturday

Celebrating Havdalah at the Jefferson Memorial with the RAC's L'Taken Social-Action Seminar.

Celebrating Havdalah at the Jefferson Memorial with the RAC’s L’Taken Social-Action Seminar.

Our first full day at the Religious Action Center’s L’Taken seminar featured Shabbat celebrations, an introduction to lobbying, an excursion to DC, and explorations of key legislative and social-action issues.

Learning about the Political Process at the RAC's L''Taken Social-Action Seminar

Learning about the Political Process at the RAC’s L”Taken Social-Action Seminar

Students Preparing a Mock Legislative Campaign at the RAC's L'Taken Social-Action Seminar

Students Preparing a Mock Legislative Campaign at the RAC’s L’Taken Social-Action Seminar

After Shabbat morning services, the students engaged in a full-scale lobbying simulation that demonstrated the complex interplay between money, power, and politics. Participants were tasked with fundraising, lobbying, organizing, protesting, and more. As they worked through the process, they learned both the theory and realpolitik sides of how a bill becomes a law.

After a break for lunch, we left the hotel to explore Washington, DC. The weather worked in our favor, gracing us with a warm, dry day.

We started with the Martin Luther King Memorial before moving on to the National Holocaust Museum.

Because the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was drafted in the conference room of the Religious Action Center, the MLK Memorial is a source of pride for us not only as Americans and Jews, but specifically as members of a movement that continues to devote so much energy to working toward a nation guided by the prophetic goals of justice and equality.

And at the Holocaust museum, we reflected on a tragedy of nearly incomprehensible proportions, even as we marveled at the progress we have made in the past several decades.

Then we set off for Georgetown, with down time for strolling, shopping, and dining.

Before returning to the hotel, we gathered for a moving Havdalah ceremony at the Jefferson Memorial.

Students Gathering in the Hotel Lobby as they  Prepare for Monday.

Students Gathering in the Hotel Lobby as they Prepare for Monday.

To top off the evening, the participants selected an area of study from among an array of topics currently before the Congress: reproductive rights, clean energy, embryonic stem cell research, LGBT equality in the workplace, gun control, combating malaria, torture and indefinite detention, and more. In smaller groups, the students studied their issue, learning about the current state of affairs, as well as Jewish perspectives and legislative backgrounds.

By the end of the day, the participants had spent time with other teenage Jews from around the country celebrating Shabbat, exploring the capital, and delving into the issues they could try to impact on Monday.

Vassar Temple Students at the RAC's L'Taken Social-Action Seminar.  Left-to-right:  Brianna E., Ali D., Kiley Q., Danielle B., Rachel M., and Noah C.

Vassar Temple Students at the RAC’s L’Taken Social-Action Seminar. Left-to-right: Brianna E., Ali D., Kiley Q., Danielle B., Rachel M., and Noah C.


Ali D and Kiley Q frolicking.

Ali D and Kiley Q frolicking.

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