The Brotherhood of Gatekeepers

“Unelected and unconfirmed, the chief serves at the whim of the president, hired and fired by him (or her) alone. And yet, in the modern era, no presidency has functioned effectively without one.” – Chris Whipple, The Gatekeepers

As I’m writing this, our country is grappling with big, yet unsurprising news: President Trump has fired his first Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus. From the very beginning, there were questions around Priebus’s leadership style and organization of the many advisors (including family members) in Trump’s ear. And after six months of turmoil, Priebus is gone and General John Kelly, previously Secretary of Homeland Security for Trump, is now in the hot seat.

Continue reading

We Can’t Fix What We Don’t Talk About

As I do most nights, I settled into my apartment and found a great podcast to turn on. The music for Pod Save the People, a powerful podcast hosted by the inspiring activist DeRay Mckesson, started up. At the very end of the intro, DeRay said something that made me pause, think, rewind, and listen:

“We can’t fix what we don’t talk about.”

Pause, think, rewind, and listen:

“We can’t fix what we don’t talk about.”

I stopped the podcast (I would finish it eventually – the interview with Tracee Ellis Ross is incredible!) and just thought about the power of that sentence.

Continue reading

5 Podcast Series To Listen To This Summer

June is here and that means summer time! It also means road trips, chilling on the beach, hiking, and more time to catch up on everything we’ve missed this so far in 2017 – including podcasts! Nowadays, there’s a podcast for everything, so I thought I would give some advice on some of my favorite podcast series to enjoy this summer. All of these series are pretty short and will add some excitement, mystery, and knowledge to your life. As always, feel free to comment with other suggestions – happy listening!

Continue reading

Jews On The Move: My Thesis on Jewish Migration & Connection to Whiteness

Just a couple of years ago, I was walking through downtown Philadelphia to go to services at Congregation Rodeph Shalom, a Reform temple. As I was walking, I noticed something fascinating: I was looking a big and shiny synagogue building right in the middle of an old, run-down area of town. It didn’t quite make sense to me; all of the synagogues I had seen in my life were usually in pretty affluent areas. It just didn’t sit right with me. I knew I had to learn more.

Fast forward to my senior year at the University of Kansas, where I would get to research and write a thesis paper for my Jewish Studies degree. As I thought about my topic, I transported myself back to Philadelphia and there it was – I wanted to understand why so many synagogues and Jews were situated in the suburbs and how that impacts our commitment to social justice.

Continue reading

Writing His Way to Life

“Even amid the pain, fear, and destruction I had experienced and inflicted in these streets, there was still hope.” – Shaka Senghor, Writing My Wrongs

People like to talk a lot about “the system”. It’s this big, ambiguous thing in our lives that controls everything: politics, schools, housing, transportation, healthcare, and so much more. Depending on who are you, the system could either work for you or work against you. It controls whether you go to a good or bad school, get the social services you need or not, and, in some cases, when and how you lose your life.

Continue reading

The Blurry, Incomplete James Sveck

A book review of Peter Cameron’s “Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You”

What precisely were you doing during July 24–30, 2003? Not quite sure? Maybe just a vague picture? Yeah, same. But all we need is six days (with some occasional flashbacks) to get a clear picture of a blurry young man, struggling to understand his place in the world. Our fictional protagonist, James Sveck, is cynical, introverted, sensitive, and struggles with many aspects of his life. After what appears to be a miserable four years, James has just graduated high school is anticipating an equally unexciting and horrible experience at Brown University, where he is set to begin school in August. James insulates himself from many aspects of the world by focusing on his true love: written, unspoken words. If James sounds like a “loser” so far, it’s because he is by any typical high school characterization. And yet, I found myself fascinated with his story and perspective on the world.
Continue reading