If there’s one thing Jonathan Levi took away from his internship with Jacob Lew and the
Department of the Treasury this summer, it’s that being a religious Jew is far from an
impediment in this day and age.
“You can be an Orthodox Jew and be a close adviser to the President of the United States – the
most important man in the world,” said Levi, who was speaking of Lew, former Chief of Staff at
the White House.
Raised an Orthodox Jew, Levi now holds a position like Lew once held: Chief of Staff.
Although, his sphere of influence isn’t the White House – yet. It’s the University of Maryland
Student Government Association.
Until he reaches Washington, the junior government and politics major advises the president of
the student body and manages a team of nine cabinet members who are all in charge of separate
Levi, who said he is driven by tikkun olam, or the Jewish principle of trying to better the world,
is using his position to back initiatives that will benefit college communities. These initiatives
include lowering college tuition rates, lowering textbook costs, and increasing student voter
“To sum it up,” Levi said, “I want to do things that are meaningful.”
Levi and other SGA members headed to Annapolis last month to lobby for a decrease in college
Spearheading lobbying in Annapolis shouldn’t be too hard for Levi, who has spent time in and
out of Washington within the span of two years.
Prior to interning at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Levi spent time working for Rep.
Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.), Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.) and Rep.
James Clyburn (D-S.C.). He also cites the Presidential Inaugural Committee on his resume along
with the National Park Service, for which he still volunteers.
“I’m not interested in a political position,” Levi said. “I want to be in the political atmosphere.”
On Sept. 10, Levi attended the National Council of Young Israel Briefing in Washington.
Levi interacted with synagogue rabbis, presidents and congregants for a day of discussion and
activism. He attended a security briefing at the White House that placed him among the ranks of
National Security Advisors on the situation in Israel, Gaza and Iran.
Levi and his colleagues then headed to the United States Capitol where they met with key
members of the U.S. Congress.
It’s clear that Levi has a jam-packed schedule, but he is still finding time to invoke the latest
bullet point on his agenda: coming up with ways for SGA members to foster good relationships
with one another outside of their meetings.
Among the ideas include heading over to Applebee’s after meetings to unwind. If you’re lucky
enough, you’ll catch Levi with a mic in his hand, crooning to Applebee’s karaoke set.
But you’re more likely to see him on Capitol Hill, briefcase in his hand, heading into a meeting,
briefing or summit. But whichever one Levi is attending, his experience in UMD’s SGA will
surely be put to use.