Scottsdale native participates in Jewish social justice internship

This summer Jenny Swift’s passion for Judaism, social justice and advocacy brought her 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.

Program participants, like Ms. Swift, intern at a public policy organization, such as The Interfaith Alliance, the NAACP, Citizens for Global Solutions or AFL-CIO, seeing firsthand how groups pursue legislative advocacy, how policy is crafted and how interns can harness their own energy to make social change.

A Scottsdale native, Ms. Swift is a sophomore studying industrial and labor relations at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., according to a press release. With the experience and knowledge gained from her time at Cornell and with CRL, Ms. Swift hopes to engage other students on her campus.

While in Washington D.C., Ms. Swift is working with the Center for Responsible Lending whose goal is to protect homeownership and family wealth by fighting predatory lending practices, according to the release. In working with the CRL, Ms. Swift’s goal is to learn about the center’s issues that are lesser known and earn more experience within the advocacy discipline.

“I had little knowledge about lending issues before coming to Washington, but I have been able to take what I have learned and relate it to social justice,” stated Ms. Swift in the release. “Machon Kaplan gives me the chance to generally learn about other issues as well from other interns in the program.”

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, among others, according to the release.

Most participants also live together, forming a residential community, participating in weekly programs that include exploring the city’s monuments and museums, as well as studying various Jewish texts that connect to the contemporary policy issues that they are advocating for at their internships, stated the release.

To learn more about the Machon Kaplan Summer Social Action Internship program, please visit

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