Remembering My Friend & Mentor

Monday, February 18, 2019

Rabbi Lynne Landsberg was the first person I ever considered to be a true mentor, someone who was invested in both my personal and professional well-being and truly wanted to help me be a better activist and Reform Jew. On her first yahrzeit (anniversary of death), I can’t help but recall how she influenced my life and the legacy she left behind.

When I started my first job after college, working as an Eisendrath Legislative Assistant at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (known affectionately as “the RAC”), I knew almost nothing about Judaism or politics (I know, I know, how did I get there?!), and I certainly knew nothing about disability rights issues – but by the time I left the RAC three years later, I had become deeply passionate about all three, thanks in no small part to my time working so closely with Lynne.

In that job, part of my job was to represent the Reform Jewish community on Capitol Hill on matters of disability rights – and in that capacity, I reported directly to Lynne, the RAC’s senior adviser on disability issues.

Years prior, she had been the RAC’s assistant director, a fast-talking, quick-thinking shining star of the Jewish community. In 1999, though, at age 48, her Jeep skidded on ice and careened into a tree, leaving her with a Traumatic Brain Injury that almost killed her. Though medical issues plagued her for the rest of her life, Lynne went on to become one of the Jewish community’s most noted disability rights activists, turning the worst moment of her life into one of the biggest opportunities of her life.

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