This week I got the chance to interview one of our community members working on the Hill Joe! We talked about his work, what lead him here and why his summer camp experience still matters to him. If you know someone who should be featured as the Jew of the week email me to nominate them!
Jackie: You are from Louisiana originally and went to Tulane. What do you miss most about New Orleans?
Joe: Definitely the food. The crawfish, the gumbo, the pork jambalaya, it’s all so delicious.
New Orleans is one of those rare cities that really has a personality. It’s a city that loves to fun, but above all it’s a city where there is a pervasive sense that we’re all in this together; that we have our neighbors’ backs. It’s that sense of community that I miss most.
Jackie: What brought you to DC?
Joe: I’ve known for a long time that I wanted to work public service and government, and DC is the place to be. Immediately after college, I spent the summer as a Rosh Eidah at Ramah Darom, and after that I moved to DC and started searching for jobs.
Joe: The narrative about Congress is that we don’t get anything done, and it’s certainly true that Congress has been unwilling or unable to tackle head on many of the most important problems we face. And as members of the minority party, we’re even more limited in our ability to affect the agenda. Once in a while though, we’re able to make small changes that really make our constituents better off. Whether it’s tacking on an amendment to a larger bill or passing a bill of our own, those are the most satisfying moments.
Jackie: You lived through Hurricane Katrina, did that experience influence the career path you chose?
Joe: Absolutely. Government at every level – local, state, and federal – failed before, during, and after the storm. One of the greatest myths about what happened to New Orleans is that it was a completely natural disaster; that it was not preventable. Hurricane Katrina was a natural disaster, but the flooding of the city and the devastation that followed a government-made disaster. As I kid, I was always interested in politics, but Katrina was the first time I witnessed firsthand what happens that the government fails. It motivated me to want to help make sure that government works for the people.
Joe: Wherever my friends are. I’m lucky to have some great friends in the city, and wherever they’re hanging out is where I’ll be.
Jackie: You are a Ramah Darom alumni, why is that experience still important to you?
Joe: My time as a counselor and a Rosh Eidah at Ramah was one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. To watch the kids have the best time of their lives, and to know you helped make that happen, is really special.
Jackie: Who is your favorite Jew?
Joe: I’ve always been enamored with Mordechai Anielewicz. His courage in the face of unspeakable evil is inspiring.
Finish the Sentence: When the Jews gather… Nobody can dance… So everybody can dance!