Lauren Kagan

GEN Z: Lauren Kagan, 22

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GEN Z: Lauren Kagan, 22

Lauren Kagan

Hometown: Salem
Currently living in: Salem
Alma maters: Epstein Hillel School, Gann Academy, UMass Amherst
Job: Deputy chief of staff for Israel on Campus Coalition
Hobbies: I love to travel, I love to read, and just spending time with family and friends … I love adventures.
Favorite music: Country
Favorite movies: “Legally Blonde”
Favorite TV show: “New Girl”
Favorite books: “Magnolia Parks” series, and “The Inheritance Games” series
Favorite travel destination: Israel, obviously, and then [the Greek island] Santorini
Favorite Jewish practice: Lighting Shabbat candles
Favorite North Shore spot: The [Marblehead] Lighthouse

Tell me about your Jewish background.

Both of my parents are from the former Soviet Union, and they both came here to America. I went to [Epstein] Hillel, went to Gann, and then throughout all of high school, I was really involved.

I was the president of Jew Crew for Chabad of the North Shore. I was an Israel Advocacy Intern with the Lappin Foundation back in 2017 or 18, so I went on Y2I twice actually – I went once as an actual participant on the trip, and once as an intern for the Lappin Foundation. And then I also was a part of the Young Judaea Youth Movement, and I was on their national board back in 2018, I believe.

During college, I joined a Jewish sorority, and I held positions of Jewish Heritage chair, assistant recruitment chair, and ran all of their social media for two years. Once I graduated, I went back to Israel as a post-graduation trip, to visit family and friends. I was there for most of the summer. After Oct. 7 is when I got really involved with the Jewish community, and I’ve just been trying to make a difference in that realm.

How is your Jewish experience now different from what you grew up with?

The difference of how it was before I went to college and how it was after definitely played a significant role. I think, prior to me going to college, I was really in a Jewish environment for [the] majority of my life … I think that when you go to college … in a way you kind of are [entering the real world], because you’re meeting so many different people from so many different cultures and backgrounds. That was the first time, when I went to college, that I experienced real antisemitism and the [Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions] movement and [Students for Justice in Palestine] – people who have such vastly different beliefs than I do.

I think now, for me, it’s more important than ever the way that the world sees us, and the way that people see us. As the Jewish community, I think it’s more important than ever for us to stick together and combat antisemitism. I think that was a big shift from pre-college to post-college to what I’ve learned and what I’ve seen, and the people that I’ve met throughout those four years.

Tell me more about your relationship to Israel, and why you wanted to work for the Israel On Campus Coalition? What does Israel advocacy work look like now for you?

I lost friends due to Oct. 7. I have a lot of friends in Israel, a lot of my family is in Israel. I have always felt such a deep connection to Israel: It’s my home. I grew up spending summers there.

The work that Israel on Campus Coalition is doing to help combat antisemitism throughout the United States is not only my job, but it’s my passion. We’ve been trying to warn the world about Never Again, and having people understand that antisemitism is real, and that it’s hurting us. What we’ve been saying for years, after Oct.7, now is being shown on college campuses. A lot of my friends that are still on the UMass campus – and on college campuses throughout the United States – they’re scared to leave their dorm rooms. Right now, with the position that I hold … I’m able to make a change, and hopefully help better every community so that no one feels scared to go outside, whether they’re Jewish, they’re Muslim – it doesn’t matter. [I want] for everyone to feel safe, and for the world to understand that antisemitism is real and that Never Again is Never Again.

If you could have dinner with any Jewish person alive or dead, real or fictional, who would it be and why?

Oh, no doubt in my mind: Golda Meir. My queen, a legend – there is not enough time in the world to say why. I think it’s kind of self-explanatory, because it’s Golda. She has been a hero. She’s incredible. I would love to pick her brain.

Do you know someone aged 18-40 who we should feature in this column? Email klein@jewishjournal.org with their name and contact information.

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