Welcome to “Who the Folk?!” Every week on Monday we feature a new member of the community as our “Person of the Week.” Last week we got to know Barb Adelman. This week meet Gabe Kravitz. Know someone we should feature? Nominate them by sending an email to [email protected].
Gabe: Yes, I grew up in Minneapolis and Hopkins.
TCJ: You’re a community organizer for Jewish Community Action. What’s that like?
Gabe: In 1:1 meetings over coffee, training at synagogues, knocking doors and phone banking we are engaging Jews in alliance with communities affected by social, racial and economic injustice here in Minnesota. In addition to my work with congregations, I’m focused on fair lending and access to credit in light of Minnesota’s worst in the nation disparities between white people and people of color. In my time at JCA I’ve been a part of faith-based organizing to defeat the anti-gay marriage amendment as well as coalition efforts to win local policies for greater bank accountability. It’s very rewarding to be doing this in the community I grew up in and where my family is actively involved.
TCJ: Are there other “JCAs” in other cities, or is this something unique to the TC?
Gabe: JCA’s model, which is a hybrid of congregational organizing and issue-based campaigns, is unique to us, but there are awesome progressive Jewish organizations doing similar work across the country. We’re affiliated with Bend the Arc (offices in DC, Boston, LA, Bay Area) and Jews United for Justice (DC metro), and we have amazing allies in Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (in NYC), JOIN for Justice (in Boston) and the Jewish Council for Urban Affairs (in Chicago). We’re focused on specific local issues and campaigns so that looks different in every city. With that said, coalition building, leadership development, community organizing and the focus on racial justice tie all of us together in the growing Jewish social justice movement.
TCJ: Barack Obama famously used to be a community organizer. Will we someday be voting Gabe Kravitz for President?
Gabe: Nope — I think there are already enough white men gunning for that job — but I would love to see some of the leaders and organizers that I work with run for public office one day.
TCJ: Are you involved in any other TC organizations?
Gabe: I teach in Shir Tikvah’s “Nesiya” program where we do family education with K-5 graders. I am a member of Adath Jeshurun Congregation and involved in Makom where we are building a community of people around monthly Friday night services and pot-luck dinner in Minneapolis. I am also part of a network of racial equity organizers who have been trained by the Minneapolis-based Organizing Apprenticeship Project.
TCJ: If there was a showdown between all the Jewish summer camps, who would you want to win?
Gabe: I thought that everybody wins at Jewish Summer camp, but Ramah in Wisconsin is where my heart is.
TCJ: What’s your favorite Jewish food?
Gabe: I am a sucker for herring (pickled, not schmaltz) and kichel. I used to come home from synagogue on Saturdays as a toddler and tell my parents that I didn’t need lunch because I ate 8 or 9 pieces of herring at the kiddush luncheon. As an eldest child of a Rabbi I didn’t have older siblings to tell me that this was gross when the shul regulars recommended that I taste it.
TCJ: Who is the coolest Jew?
Gabe: My cousin-in-law Rabbi Levi Kelman is the leader of the Reform synagogue Kol HaNeshamah in Jerusalem. He recently sang the El Maleh Rachamim (a prayer for mourning) for his friend Lou Reed’s memorial service at the Apollo Theater in New York City. It’s hard to beat that.
TCJ: Have you been to Israel? What’s your favorite memory?
Gabe: I have been to Israel seven times, for a total of two years. The most formative time that I spent there was through the New Israel Fund’s Shatil Social Justice Fellowship. I got to work for a year alongside inspiring people in the “mixed” Jewish-Arab town of Lod, where low-income residents were demanding social and economic rights including access to housing, fair treatment of contracted workers at the airport, responsive social services and local democratic accountability.
Gabe: I love biking around. I have my bike waiting to emerge from our winter hibernation.
TCJ: What else do you do for fun?
Gabe: I love cooking with my wife Yael and watching drecky television shows like the Bachelor, Scandal or the Good Wife. Is that mean to lump all of those together?
TCJ: Give us one more reason why you’re folking awesome!
Gabe: Rumor has it that I hold the state high school record for being the fastest pinned wrestler in MN history- in under 7 seconds.Click here to nominate your favorite TC Jew to be featured on our weekly Who the Folk?! series!