Day 33- Washington, DC
– Casey Goldstein
Today was a fun-filled yet educational day. To start off, we drove 45 minutes from our Hyatt Hotel to our first destination. In other words, we all had a great nap! As we stretched our way off the bus, we arrived at a meeting with the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, also known as RAC. This is an organization who takes steps towards achieving civil rights and social justice on behalf of the Reform Jewish Congregation. As a representation of 1.5 million Americans, RAC supports the significance of studying certain topics to later permit advocacy and action.
During our meeting, we were told a metaphoric story about a river in which many people were drowning in daily. As an attempted solution, lifeguard stands were built. However, deaths from drowning increased and eventually became too numerous for the lifeguards to handle. Eventually, it was suggested that they go upstream to find the cause of these deaths. RAC assists in “upstream approaches” in order to find the cause of problems while still supporting communities that do temporary “downstream work”, such as working with individual people. RAC’s “upstream work” included all varieties of relevant issues such as advocating for the Voting Rights Act and currently working in coalition for ending poverty. This 70-issue organization shared a common belief with Etgar regarding advocacy for social reform. Therefore, it was easy to comprehend their motives and beliefs about the importance of study. After all, the basis of Etgar is to gather knowledge and have the ability to carry that with us and speak upon it.
Next, we arrived at the FDR Memorial, where we discussed how his disabilities affected his presidency and perceptions of the public towards disabilities.
We compared both of his statues and acknowledged how the original one hid his wheelchair, as the newly added statue of FDR proudly exposed his inability to walk or see without glasses.
We walked our way down to the newest memorial in all of Washington D.C., the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. This beautiful and gigantic memorial showed various emotions that he felt throughout his lifetime.
Our next meeting involved Green Peace, an organization that strives to stop global warming, protect ancient forests, and preserve oceans. This environmentally-friendly group participates in non-violent protests to tell an inspirational story to others and provide a platform to describe why they do what they do. One way Green Place has beneficially impacted the world is by convincing corporations such as Facebook and Apple to commit to renewable energy usage. Additionally, they recognized that Shell will be the first company to drill for oil in the Arctic. However, an oil spill in this area would be catastrophic and could easily be worse than any spill that has occurred yet. This is because the weather does not permit for cleanup to easily exist and the Arctic lacks infrastructure. Therefore, Green Peace protested by permitting employees and volunteers to hang from a bridge for prevention of a boat passing through. Therefore, this organization has beneficially impacted our environment and worked towards the Earth living sustainably as a whole.
To conclude today’s meetings, we met with J Street, a pro-isreal organization that favors the two-state solution and Israel’s right to defend itself. This company was founded to support the members of the Jewish/American community who supported this solution and lacked a voice. They support this solution because they believe it will provide the most security for Israel and preserve Israel as a Jewish Democracy. Although this solution is difficult to achieve because both Palestine and Israel strive to achieve as much land as possible, it is the fairest tactic and the best way to achieve peace. Additionally, the majority of Palestinians and Israelis support this, making it more achievable. After meeting with this organization, I fully agree with and support all of J Street’s goals and philosophies.
To conclude a busy and tiring day, we relaxed while eating an amazing dinner and strolling down Georgetown.