BEDFORD, N.Y. -- This summer, Samuel Barnett's passion for Judaism, social justice and advocacy brought him to Washington, D.C., for the Machon Kaplan program at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.
Machon Kaplan is a summer study-internship program that engages students on critical social justice issues from both an academic and practical viewpoint. Participants intern at a public policy organization -- such as the Interfaith Alliance, the NAACP, Citizens for Global Solutions or the AFL-CIO -- and see firsthand how groups pursue legislative advocacy, how policy is crafted and how interns can harness their own energy to make social change.
This summer, Barnett is working with Win Without War at the Center for International Policy. Its goal is to advocate for alternatives to war and to promote a more progressive national security strategy. Working there, Barnett's goal is to gain valuable experience working in politics, while learning more about the political processes that drive policy, meeting leading people in his field and advocating for issues that he cares about.
"My experience with the RAC has been very informative and beneficial to my understanding of my work," Barnett said.
"In my internship, I have learned a lot about the legislative process, foreign policy and national security. Specifically, I have been tracking defense legislation in Congress and doing research on U.S. involvement in Afghanistan."
A Bedford native, Barnett is a rising senior, studying Near Eastern Studies at Cornell University. With the experience and knowledge gained from his time at Cornell and with Win Without War, Barnett hopes to engage other students on his campus.
In addition to their placements, students take specially designed academic courses that teach the application of Jewish values to current social justice issues -- such as the environment, civil rights, LGBT equality and church state-separation. Most participants also live together, forming a residential community, participating in weekly programs that include exploring the city’s monuments and museums. They also study various Jewish texts that connect to the contemporary policy issues that they are advocating for at their internships.
To learn more about the Machon Kaplan internship program, click here.