Pro Bono, Student Posts

A Common Quest for Justice: The Value of the LPS Community for a Student with Niche Public-Interest Goals

Admittedly, my public interest career aspirations are niche. So niche, that when I tell people I aim to eventually work in the Jewish communal advocacy sector they often have no idea what I am referring to. Thus, before I share the genesis of my career goals, I must elaborate on the sector itself.

While the Jewish communal advocacy world is small and ill-understood, it has a long and storied tradition of social justice work. It is comprised of a constellation of non-profit organizations, some smaller and newer, others larger and older, that ground their work in Jewish values and communal interests, while simultaneously promoting the rights of other minority groups. For example, one stalwart of the sector is the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), an organization over one-hundred years old that “fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals, and protects civil rights for all”, through “information, education, legislation, and advocacy.”

My desire to work for an organization like the ADL stems from my experiences. I have been targeted with anti-Semitism throughout my life. While the specific incidents have varied—from a water bottle being dumped on my head in grade school to mimic a baptism, to the word “kike” being scrawled across my college dorm—the unfounded bigotry of the perpetrators has not. That bigotry is not uniquely dedicated to the Jewish community. Just as often, if not more so, this exact same hatred is directed against other minority groups.

When battling such hatred in college, I felt alone—devoid of allies and resources. Then, I discovered Jewish communal advocacy organizations. Through their advocacy acumen, they showed me I need not wallow in victimhood but rather empowered me to stand up proudly as a Jew. These organizations taught me the value in not only fighting for my own community but the importance of standing in solidarity with other targeted minorities. The main Jewish communal advocacy professional who I worked with, a Stanford Law graduate, was keen to ground these efforts in our heritage. He would often repeat a teaching from Hillel, a Rabbi from the second century BCE. That teaching guides me as I work towards my public interest goals.

If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?” -Rabbi Hillel , Ethics of the Fathers, 1:14

In the Law & Public Service Program (LPS), I have found like-minded peers who also feel this imminent call to work towards justice. Their passion and commitment towards public service perpetually grounds me to preserve towards my own unique career trajectory. While I may be alone in LPS as the only member who aspires to work in Jewish communal advocacy, I am surrounded by LPS members who broadly share my aspiration to make social change. Learning with and from them, animates Rabbi Hillel’s call to not only work on behalf of one’s own community but to imminently link arms in a common quest for justice.

Julian Yigal Kritz, a 2L from Raleigh, North Carolina graduated from Augsburg University in Minneapolis. Before coming to UVA, he worked for a boutique business law firm and served on the board of directors for multiple Jewish nonprofit agencies. Julian is President of the Jewish Law Student Association and a member of the Jessup Moot Court Team. He spent his 1L summer at the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under the Law and plans to pursue a career in Jewish communal advocacy. Interests: Civil Rights, Nonprofit Law, International Law

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