Sarah Markowitz '18 | Educational Advocate
Sarah Markowitz '18 received the Lumer Fellowship for her academic paper entitled "Holocaust Zionism: An Israeli Identity Built on Tragedy and Hope". This paper, submitted as her final for Dr. Michael Davidson's course entitled "The Zionist Idea", focused on how the roles of Zionism, Holocaust education, and Holocaust memory play a part in the state of Israel. She used it to expand her own knowledge base and found it tied to Jewish Studies as a whole, instead of just being another final for another course. Due to her Political Science major and International Relations minor, she was already in a global mindset and sought to relate most of her academic work in some way to Israel. However, while all of her academic work was important, receiving the fellowship made writing this paper feel particularly poignant.
Sarah became a research assistant for Dr. Holli Levitsky in her freshman year after taking her Literature of Exile and Terror course and knew she wanted to be involved actively in Jewish Studies. She traveled to Israel for the program's study abroad course, served as a program resource for other students, held two internships with Jewish education centers, and was also a founding member of the Students Supporting Israel club.
Sarah knew that she wanted to go into some sort of Jewish space for her professional career. After interning at the American Jewish Committee and the Museum of Tolerance, and being inspired by leaders there, she decided to pursue a master's degree that would support her specializations in Holocaust education and history. In 2020, Sarah graduated from Chapman University with a Masters in War and Society and remarks that she was able to combine her interests of political science and Jewish studies, along with history. Her thesis explored shifts in relationships during the beginning of the Holocaust, especially the changes between neighbors and interpersonal relationships, and the lasting impact of what it is like to be a persecuted minority. Having been well prepared by her LMU Jewish Studies courses, she was now able to look for positions where she could apply all her learning in a practical way.
Sarah currently serves as the Education and Program Associate for the Jewish Community Relations Bureau of the American Jewish Committee in Kansas City, which is a hybrid partnership of the local Jewish community relations board and the regional office of AJC. She addresses antisemitism in schools proactively, by building and maintaining relationships with schools and school districts in the area and providing resources about, what antisemitism is, what it looks like, and how to accommodate and support Jewish students. Sarah cites that antisemitism has only increased over the past 5 years, and that 75% of students witness some form of antisemitism daily. She also works with older Jewish students through high school and college-level leadership programs, empowering them to advocate for themselves through workshops and programming. She also serves as a resource for the Jewish community at large for issues of antisemitism, and actively participates in coalition building, working with Black and Muslim partners while advocating on behalf of the Jewish community. In relation to her work on her Lumer paper and her thesis, Sarah builds upon the importance of primary sources and storytelling as a way of communicating how we can shape our world and outlook today in real-world situations.
"Jewish Studies at LMU is the reason why I am where I am today. It gave me the courses to develop my intellectual interests and expand my horizons. Learning about Zionism, different faiths, the archeology of the Levant, and ancient Israel completely expanded my knowledge base and what I thought I knew about Judaism and Jewish History. Professionally, I had so many opportunities with the program. I had great mentors, met Jewish scholars and guest speakers, and made strong community connections that showed me so many professional avenues where I could use my interest, knowledge, and talents. Everything built upon each other was incredibly transformative."
Sarah advises that taking any Jewish Studies course can help all students see the importance of Judaism in the larger world. She is constantly referring back to the classes she had at LMU in her work today. She also recommends taking advantage of everything Jewish Studies has to offer. "Make connections and have conversations with professors and guest speakers to take it beyond your education."