After just celebrating my first month with WRJ, I am forever grateful for all the opportunities and experiences that have led me to this point. I have known about WRJ for as long as I can remember and to think that I am now an integrated member of this professional staff is still mind-boggling to say the least.
I grew up in a very observant Reform Jewish household and was always taught to fight for what is right. To me, “right” is being accepting of all backgrounds and allowing the voices of those who do not have a voice in our society to be heard. From my perspective, to look at this work in a Jewish context is synonymous with looking at it from a social justice context.
I remember as a little girl starting to be involved in my local sisterhood’s events- from volunteering to be a junior model in their annual fashion show fundraiser, to applying and receiving grants from the YES Fund in order to attend URJ Camp Harlam during the summers. Although the thought of working directly with WRJ didn’t cross my mind exactly, I knew that whatever I did as I grew older would have to give back to the world in some way. I needed to contribute back to my community, and the community at large.
A cumulation of my Reform Jewish upbringing has led me directly to this point in my life and although I have many interests that didn’t come directly from this, most of my experiences stem from this root. I’ve spent ten summers at Camp Harlam, I participated in NFTY in Israel, I was a chair in the NFTY-GER region, I served as my local synagogue’s youth group president, I was an active member of my university’s AIPAC chapter, I got to intern at the Religious Action Center and the World Union for Progressive Judaism, and again I was never afraid to stand up for what is right. These above experiences were not defined as something “Jewish” in my head; they were things to help better myself and the world around me.
As part of my role as WRJ’s Advocacy and Communications Associate I get to inform and engage our women on the social justice opportunities around us. During my undergraduate career I concentrated on a traditional journalism education. I learned how to use my writing in attempts to erase ignorance and present a situation from all perspectives. I now get to use these skills to inform our women in the most honest way I know how.
Although the term “social justice” is considered partisan, I see it is as a way to bring people together. High priority issues such as pay equity and domestic violence should be discussed by everyone, regardless of what side of the aisle they tend to lean towards.
WRJ has always been a strong voice for social justice within the Reform Movement and in society as a whole, and I am more than excited to contribute to this voice in an official capacity.
Alyson Malinger is the Advocacy and the Communications Associate for WRJ. She recently graduated from Indiana University and is a member of Temple Shalom in Aberdeen, NJ.