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Lunch and Learn with Rabbi Rachel Schmelkin & Sarah Beckerman – Exploring our Fears Around America’s Division


Pirkei Avot 1.6 teaches us to “…judge every person meritoriously.” Because of how our brains are wired, living out this value is easier said than done. In this session, the One America Movement will bring participants current research and data on division and polarization in American society. Our perceptions are often different from reality. Our assumptions about the views of the other side are often incorrect, and moreover, we make incorrect assumptions about how others view us. Participants will have the opportunity to discuss this research and consider how it does or does not speak to their lived experiences.

Sarah Beckerman: Senior Director of Programs

Sarah BeckermanSarah is the Senior Director of Programs at The One America Movement, working at the intersection of democracy, development, and conflict resolution for over ten years. Before joining The One America Movement, Sarah worked at the National Democratic Institute (NDI) on the Middle East and North Africa teams. Sarah worked for two years in Iraq, where she managed a leadership program to increase access for women in the national reconciliation process, and managed a democratic governance program to strengthen the capacity of nationally elected officials and staff to build structured constituent outreach strategies and draft public policy. Sarah holds a Master’s Degree in international peace building and conflict resolution from the School of International Service at American University and an MA in history and political science from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Sarah is a proud New Yorker but has called Washington, D.C. home for over a decade and enjoys cooking, traveling the world, and going on adventures with her dog Samwise.

Rabbi SchmelkinRabbi Rachel Schmelkin: Director of Jewish Programs

Rabbi Rachel is the Director of Jewish Programs at the One America Movement. Since the lead-up to and aftermath of the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, VA, Rachel has been dedicated to forming relationships across divides. Being able to collaborate with people across lines of difference was a critical part of the effort to resist and stand up against white supremacy. Prior to joining the One America Movement team, Rachel served as associate rabbi at Congregation Beth, Israel in Charlottesville, VA. During that time Rachel was a One America chapter leader and an active member of the Charlottesville Clergy Collective, The Women’s Clergy Circle, and Congregate Charlottesville. Rachel was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2016. Rabbi Rachel holds fast to a teaching from Pirkei Avot (The Ethics of the Fathers) that says, “…be of the disciples of Aaron; loving peace and pursuing peace…” She believes that the work of the One America Movement allows her to put this teaching into action.

Register before 5 pm. February 6th for in-person lunch ($10) or by the next evening for the Zoom link.

For more information, please email Lunch and Learn.

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