BBYO | AZA & BBG | International Convention | Summer

Identity

A Once In a Lifetime Experience: Lobbying Congress

April 29, 2019

Westfield, New Jersey

A week before International Convention 2019, I spent four days in Washington, DC with the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism on their L’taken trip. As a part of my temple’s 10th grade confirmation track, my classmates and I went on this trip to learn not only how Judaism influences our political ideas, but how to make our voices heard by those who have a seat in the government. This trip was an amazing opportunity to experience life changing programming and speakers alongside getting an opportunity to lobby on Congress floor.

After three days, we got the chance to write speeches on any bill being introduced to Congress. I chose to lobby for disability rights on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Full Funding Act, known as the I.D.E.A. This topic is close to my heart after going through my own problems with a physical disability for most of my childhood and teenage years. I’m not very open about the topic and most of my friends aren’t fully aware of my experiences as a teen with a disability. Besides being an incredible experience, lobbying gave me the chance to come out to my friends and peers with a very big part of my identity that I used to be ashamed of. I was able to stand up for students like myself across the country and speak to my representative, Senator Bob Menendez (D). My speech has also been shared on Facebook and put in the RAC database for future reference. I’m incredibly proud of the work I did and I’m incredibly thankful for the chance to voice my opinion and speak for those without a voice in Congress.

Lobbying is an empowering experience in itself. My class was welcomed onto Capitol Hill in DC and given the opportunity to speak to our representatives with as much artistic license as we wanted. I heard speeches about living through bombings while living in Israel, helping an LGBTQ+ friend through suicidal thoughts, and experiencing racial profiling in the justice system. Anyone can make an appointment to lobby to their representatives, and it’s a once in a lifetime experience that I recommend to anyone passionate about politics.

Amanda is a BBG from Greater Jersey Hudson River Region: Central Council.

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