Every month we receive amazing nominations for the Maccabee of the Month. This month we want to introduce you to Margaux from the University of Minnesota.
Margaux is a student leader who served in student government. But she had little connection to Israel. That all changed two years ago when she was invited to visit Israel through a Maccabee-funded Fact Finder Trip. While she was there she had an amazing experience and in her own words was able to “expand [her] horizons and come to [her] own conclusions in a better way than a newspaper or a traditional news outlet could provide.” The following year she helped lead the next Fact Finder trip on her campus.
After coming back from Israel, Margaux has continued to shine as a leader on student government and beyond. She has joined with Jewish friends to lead Israel advocacy and education efforts on campus. In addition, she continues to study the Middle East. In fact her impressive research on religious fundamentalism has been presented to the State Department and Department of Defense.
“I care about Israel because I believe in self-determination of the Jewish people and the right for students to express their allyship of Israel on campus,” Margaux said. “The biggest takeaway from my trips to Israel is that no matter what is being said about Israel, the people there are strong, resilient, and sharp… Going to Israel gave me hope for a future where policy is equitable and just, and no person is discriminated against. Israel is not perfect–going there I saw that firsthand. I met people who are striving to make her better.”
We are so proud to have played a part in Margaux’s journey and look forward to seeing how far we know she will go.
What are the three most important things I should know about you?
Three important and interesting facts about myself: I was camp counselor in Alaska during the Summer of 2018, I have conducted undergraduate research about religious fundamentalism in Central Asia since 2017, and I was born in Nashville, Tennessee.
Shwarma or falafel?
What’s your secret talent?
I am really good at hair braiding! I got into learning how to braid hair when I was about 11 years old on my dolls and have stuck with it ever since. I’ve done non-professional for proms and graduations. It’s a fun hobby of mine.
What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the undergraduate research I have conducted throughout my time at the University of Minnesota. I have received two research awards through the school and my research has been presented to the State Department and the Department of Defense through the professor I work with.
Who do you most admire, and why?
I have many role models and am so lucky to have many admirable people in my life. One person I really admire is Aly Raisman, 6x Olympic medalist and 2x Captain of the U.S. Women’s Olympic Gymnastics team. She is a fierce advocate for reform within gymnastics and is very vocal about abuse prevention. I was lucky to meet her Spring of 2018–our conversation meant a lot to me.
What is your favorite place to visit in Israel and why?
I love Jerusalem! (Typical, I know.) I have so many fond memories there between the two trips I have taken to Israel. It is an incredibly grounding and humbling location for me spiritually and it is difficult to describe. Additionally, getting to eat and drink in Jerusalem with my best friends are some of my most treasured memories.
Why do you care about helping Israel?
I care about Israel because I believe in self-determination of the Jewish people and the right for students to express their allyship of Israel on campus.
What is the attitude about BDS on your campus?
I believe that the majority of students do not know or care to know about BDS because it doesn’t affect them directly. The students who know about BDS are passionate about it–whether for or against it.
Name one thing you’re personally doing to help Israel on your campus?
I believe that what I do to help Israel on campus is in the form of active communication. I am not afraid to ask questions about differing beliefs or be questioned on my own. I believe that only true understanding can come through dialogue and I like to practice that.
What was your biggest takeaway from your trip to Israel?
The biggest takeaway from my trips to Israel is that no matter what is being said about Israel, the people there are strong, resilient, and sharp. Somehow, in this little pocket of the Middle East, that is a 1/6th the size of my state, they all coexist. Our holy sites are protected and have lasted for millenia. The Jewish people have their own state, for the first time ever. Going to Israel allowed me to meet the people that are on the wave of a new future. The changemakers and the peacemakers and reformers–the people who see the brutality across the borders and the brutality within their own border. Going to Israel gave me hope for a future where policy is equitable and just, and no person is discriminated against. Israel is not perfect–going there I saw that firsthand. I met people who are striving to make her better.
How has the Maccabee Task Force helped you/your campus to support Israel?
Our campus has been fortunate to receive funding from the MTF for multiple trips to Israel and the Palestinian territories. I believe that this opportunity allows for students to expand their horizons and come to their own conclusions–in a better way than a newspaper or a traditional news outlet could provide.
What are you looking forward to most this upcoming year/semester?
I am most looking forward to graduating in the Spring of 2021, completing my thesis, and entering the job market! I am so grateful for the amazing years I’ve had at the University of Minnesota and I am very excited to take the next step in my life.