You Should Know … Eliav Hamburger

Eliav Hamburger
Eliav Hamburger (Courtesy of Eliav Hamburger)

At Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School, high school seniors have the opportunity to intern in a field of their choosing. Taking advantage of this program can catapult young graduates into beneficial connections or even a career.

Eliav Hamburger used the opportunity to intern for two Baltimore County representatives: Del. Dana Stein and state Sen. Shelley Hettleman. Now, as a junior in college, Hamburger still works for Stein.

Hamburger, 21, lives in Pikesville, where he grew up. He is currently attending the University of Maryland, College Park, where he studies computer engineering, and belongs to Ner Tamid.

How did you start working for Baltimore politicians?

In high school at BT, we have senior internships. I was always really interested in politics in addition to my computer engineering background. I thought if I’m going to major in computer engineering, I want to be able to kind of channel my political-facing energy into a different realm, somewhere I can do an extracurricular while I focus on computers. So, I chose an internship working for both Shelley Hettleman and Del. Dana Stein. I worked on constituent outreach, talking to people in the district, helping them with their problems and tracking legislation.

As I graduated and went into college, I continued working for Stein doing climate research. I represented him on the Maryland Commission for Climate Change, which is a body that’s dedicated to studying climate change, understanding how it impacts communities and the environment, especially in Maryland and what we as a state can do to help prevent climate change. I also took on a project where I reviewed legislation from all states in America regarding climate change, and I read through all the legislation to see if any of it [could] be applied to Maryland. I compiled a document about what changes we could see here in Maryland to help improve on the state of our environment. I worked as Stein’s deputy campaign manager, helping him get reelected, which he successfully was. Right now, I’m working as his social media manager and website creator.

What first sparked your interest in politics?

I would look at things in the world, and I could see that there was a lot of difference between how the world was functioning and how it could function. I look at things like universal health care and the lack of availability in America, especially looking at climate change, which is an impending disaster that everyone seems to try and push off to the future. I was very frustrated by our inability to solve these problems. I wanted to see what I could do both on a local level in terms of Maryland’s state response and also on a federal level, lobbying and getting involved to help make sure that we set the country up on a good path. I think a lot of people in the last few election cycles have gotten much more politically conscious, especially in Gen Z. Even if I couldn’t vote, I was able to lobby and talk to my Congress people.

What is one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you?

I can play a bunch of random instruments. I can play guitar, piano and the kalimba. I find all these interesting things online and buy them, and I play around with them, so I figure it out. I grew up with a baby grand piano. It’s very, very old. It’s probably from the early 1990s, I think. It’s not a particularly good piano; it’s just really old. But it’s been in my living room ever since I grew up, and I never took lessons to learn how to play the piano. I just played around with it whenever I had free time, and I grew to love it. It became a great way to release stress, to learn something new, and I figured out how to play it by myself.

Where do you feel the most connected to Baltimore?

During my freshman year, I was on [UMD’s] north campus, and there were a lot of Beth Tfiloh kids also hanging around north campus because of their major or because they lived there. It was always very comforting. Every day, I would get to see two or three kids from my class. We wave hi and talk for a minute while we passed each other. So, that was always a great connection to Baltimore.

Rabbi [Yosef] Furman from Beth Tfiloh, who taught me for two years in high school Judaics, actually comes once a month to give a shiur to Beth Tfiloh kids in [University of] Maryland. It’s a pretty huge event. A lot of kids who normally don’t go to Hillel come out. It’s always nice to have that connection and feel like there’s still a bridge between Baltimore and University of Maryland. Once a month, the alumni association of Beth Tfiloh sponsors David Chu’s for everyone who comes. It’s always a really cute meeting, and we learn a lot.

How would you describe your relationship with Judaism?

It’s one of exploration and curiosity. Since I came to college, there’s a lot more challenges in regard to the way I live my life. I have to make intentional time to go to shul. I have to make intentional time to learn with my friends.

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