Jackson Wolf Pincus, born in D.C. and raised just outside of Boston, returned to the area for school. A senior majoring in International Studies at American University, he has become highly involved Jewish and Israeli activism since starting college. Last summer, he interned with the Israeli aid society MASHAV, which was founded by Golda Meir. The 21-year-old is also a self-taught photographer who focuses on landscapes and buildings. He posts about his work, whether in art or in Israel, his blog: jwolfpincus.wordpress.com
How did you become involved in Israeli activism and the Jewish world?
I was not super active in being Jewish after I was a little kid. You know, you get to Bar Mitzvah age and you think ‘Ah, I’m done.’ My dad encouraged me to keep going back for high school and the curriculum kind of changed a little more to a philosophical approach. I really enjoyed it and I kept getting more and more involved from there.
That led me to Hillel in college and kind of everything else so far.
What kind of stuff have you been involved with?
Volunteering with the local Jewish Federation is always a highlight. They have an incredible high school philanthropy group that they run and I kind of facilitated that for the past year. I’m a teacher at Temple Micah and also working a little bit with the David Project. I’ve been working with them for the past couple of years as well.
Why are you so passionate about this?
I don’t do it because I feel like I have to do. I feel like for me, I enjoy seeing the next generation come up. Talking about Israel, advocacy, working with all the pro-Israel groups I can is incredible. I’ll be at AIPAC this year as well.
It’s more to me finding the things I love about it; all the different arenas [I work in] they really kind of feed in to the generation I’m hoping help to build.
Tell me a little bit about your photography work.
So, that’s something I picked up I don’t even know when. I kind of started picking it up in high school. I never took any classes in it. I never really splurged on all the fancy equipment or anything but there’s some kind of satisfaction in getting the perfect frame and capturing the perfect moment.
I’ve gotten a little bit better at it over the years. Started kind of building up my equipment and taken the time on my own to figure out what my style is. I still haven’t taken any formal classes in. It’s just been for fun.
What do you like to take photos of?
I’m not a huge portrait person. I love the perfect kind of scene. I stay away from big cityscapes if I can. I tend to really focus on details. You can see on my website. I don’t want a bush full of flowers, I want a single flower. I don’t a roomful of art, I want one piece of one painting. Being able to build art out of another piece of art is really the goal.
Tell me about MASHAV.
I did a little bit of everything. I helped with one other person, running the social media for the center. But I was also helping staff with the day trips we were sent on [to lead courses]. They sent us to an Arab village on the Mediterranean; it was literally just us.
So it was a really great experience. I think for me it was really cool. Because in Israel there’s not a really a concept of internships in the way we have it. You’re never going to be running getting coffee for people or making copies, unless you need them.
It was very much like I was part of the team. It really kind of helped prepare me for the real world.
There is a lot of debate about Israel right now. How do you feel about that?
I think a lot of Americans, Jews and otherwise, tend to think of Israel as a miniature United States. [It] should be held to this high standard of never doing anything violent. But as American Jews, we have a sense of security that Israeli Jews do not.
We do not have rockets threatening our homes every month. We don’t have the threat of a car ramming or a stabbing or a flaming kite at any point in the same way that Israeli Jews do. And I think we forget that when we think about what we would like to see.