Wisconsin Democratic National Convention delegate Essie Lenchner credits her Jewish upbringing in shaping her politics.
“I love being Jewish because there’s a huge intellectual tradition attached to it,” Lenchner said. “There’s a huge link between social justice and Judaism and a sense of responsibility toward others in the world.”
Lenchner is one of 97 Wisconsin delegates to the Democratic National Convention Aug. 17-20 in Milwaukee. She has lived in Madison for five years, was born in Israel, and went to a Jewish high school in Brooklyn.
Outside of being a delegate, Lenchner is an operations manager for Organizing 2.0, which runs a yearly training conference for political organizers and social justice activists. She has also been co-chair of Madison Democratic Socialists of America.
“I think it’s really important to be politically active as a Jewish person,” Lenchner said. “So that we’re not marginalized or sidelined from important decisions that ultimately affect our ability to keep being Jewish in America.”
Lenchner is pledged to vote for Bernie Sanders. In preparation for the convention, she’s been meeting with other Sanders delegates to discuss how they can advocate for pushing the Democratic party platform left.
There has already been some success on that front, according to media reports. Yet the task has been made more difficult by the convention going mostly virtual, Lenchner said. Former Vice President Joe Biden will not accept the nomination in Milwaukee, and delegates will cast their votes remotely.
“By showing up at the convention virtually as a delegate, you can’t do much other than say ‘yay’ or ‘nay’ to the platform, which ultimately will pass,” Lenchner said. “If it was in person, there’s more room for visual protest.”
There is talk of a socially distant meetup of delegates to watch the convention on livestream, Lenchner said.
Even under the unusual circumstances, Lenchner said she’s looking forward to attending the convention remotely.
“I am excited to tell the next generation that I was a Bernie delegate for what could’ve been our next Jewish president,” Lenchner said. “I feel like I’m part of this big historical moment, and I’m really trying to figure out how to make the most of it and not let it slip by.”