Stephani Wudarski (30), a Democrat from Pittsburgh, PA, does not belong to a synagogue but attends High Holy Day services with her family and went to Israel on Birthright. She works for a managed Medicaid company and has a background treating substance use disorders. She was a passionate supporter of Kamala Harris and volunteered for her campaign until Harris dropped out of the race in December.
We are providing the unfiltered opinions of voters interviewed for this project. Those views are based on their understanding and perception of facts and information from a range of sources. In some cases, that information may be misleading or incorrect.
How concerned are you about the rise in anti-Semitism in this country?
I do think about it a little more than I used to. I generally think about it more in terms of the violence against all minorities, although there is definitely something unique about anti-Semitism. I haven’t experienced it really in my own life, but I did have a pretty eye-opening experience with an acquaintance recently who was discussing one of her friends becoming Muslim. She said she couldn’t understand how her friend could convert to be a Muslim because the religion was so oppressive to females. I said I didn’t think it was so much about the religion as aspects of the culture. I kind of understood at that moment why talking negatively about a specific religion is really worrisome. To hear someone that I know have those viewpoints was disturbing.
What do you see as the primary causes of the rise in anti-Semitism?
Anti-Semitism is one area where the far-right and far-left kind of meet. Both sides are responsible in that sense. The far-left tends to be aggressors online but who knows where that could be originating from—it could be foreign influence. The far-right tends to be more likely to carry out violent, anti-Semitic attacks.
Do you think the presidential candidates should be talking more about anti-Semitism?
Without a doubt. I’ve been trying to convince myself to support Joe Biden and one thing I really appreciate about him is how much he centered his announcement to run for president around Charlottesville; unequivocally saying there is no comparison between the protesters and the marchers who shouted, “Jews will not replace us.” There is no both sides. Charlottesville was so shocking. Maybe it’s because I’m younger, but I always felt removed from any sort of anti-Semitism.
How do you think the candidates should address anti-Semitism?
It’s really not about what any of them say in terms of their policy positions, but about what kind of leader they can be on issues like this. Whether or not their policy positions come to fruition, they need to be able to bring people together.
How are you feeling about the presidential race right now?
I think Bernie Sanders has caused a lot of groupthink around people in my generation and people who live on the internet. It creates this idea that you need to have purity in your views and that we have to burn it all down because the system isn’t working. The burn it all down mentality is how we got Trump. I also have huge concerns about the Bernie or bust attitude and the online harassing of people who don’t support Bernie. I don’t think Bernie has done a good job of reining that in. This is not the time for trash talking. Everything is on the line—Democracy itself is at risk. The only way to win is by coming together.