Towson University Hillel’s newest Israel engagement associate, McKenna Bates, is also a Girl Scout. Bates lives in Severn, and though she moved a lot as a kid, considers herself to be from Southern Virginia.
What does your Jewish identity mean to you?
Originally when we moved to Virginia, I was 7 or 8, and originally I would say, “Hi, I’m Jewish, I’m McKenna.” I think it goes to show there is no separation. I am Jewish. There is no difference. It’s my life. It shapes my value and who I am. If I was not as involved in Jewish education, I would be a completely different person.
As much as my mom would like to tie my leadership skills to Girl Scouts, I think I’ve learned it from every Jewish professional I’ve met.
You just started your job as Israel engagement associate at Towson University Hillel. What is it like so far?
I have an interesting life so I expected to have an interesting time transitioning to it. Everyone has been really nice and accommodating. Moving here has been great; everyone has been patient and wonderful.
[In the job,] I do Israel programming, civic engagement and help facilitate people’s engagement to Israel. Israel is a magnifying glass to Jewish identity.