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Adeena Bleich On Getting Involved With Community Activism

Though she’s aware that everyone can’t commit tons of time to community service, Bleich said there are ways each person can give back. 
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November 18, 2021

A sense of civic duty was instilled into Adeena Bleich at a young age. When she was just a child, her parents would take her into the voting booth so she would understand how critical it was to be an active citizen.

“They wanted [my brothers and I] to participate in that process because they felt you shouldn’t take it for granted,” she said. “I always knew how important politics were because my parents told me they could be very detrimental for people or have the ability to create great change for people.”

This is a lesson that Bleich has carried with her throughout her life, as she’s been involved in improving her community on a number of different levels. She ran for a seat in the 5th district of City Council, worked as a deputy chief of staff in Council District 4 and is now serving as senior project coordinator for the Los Angeles Bureau of Street Services. 

What motivated Bleich to run for City Council in 2009 was the fact that she could potentially have a direct influence on the lives of her fellow Angelenos. While she said that leaders in Sacramento pass huge pieces of legislation, they then take a step back afterwards. On the other hand, city council members are tasked with processing the legislation and seeing it through.

“At the city council level, you have the ability to bring people together, figure out what’s needed and serve. You can make partnerships with other council members and work on bigger things.”

Even though she lost the election, that didn’t stop Bleich from caring about her community. Now, in her job at the Los Angeles Bureau of Street Services, she’s working on fixing sidewalks and streets in L.A. and figuring out ways that neighborhoods can be upgraded and beautified. 

“We have an equity assessment, so we look at communities that are hardest hit,” she said. “We do outreach to figure out what the communities want. I really love it because it’s not political, it’s purely helping people.” 

She also gives back to the Jewish community; she’s volunteered for the Jewish Free Loan Association and sits on the committees for the ChangeMaker Challenge and the Civic Partnership Program at The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.

“When I became a bat mitzvah, my mom said, ‘Whether it’s right or wrong, today you become an ambassador of Judaism. And everything you do will reflect on the Jewish community,’” she said. “I’m in this unique moment where I can help share our collective history and build bridges to other communities and show how we have always been part of civic law.”

As another way to give back, Bleich also founded an organization called CiviCare to educate Jews about the local political system. One of her latest projects is talking to Jews about the 2021 redistricting proposal and how changes could potentially break up the historic Jewish communities of L.A.

“Even if we don’t like politics itself, we have to participate in the process or we will be overlooked.” — Adeena Bleich

“I don’t believe in politics, I believe in people,” she said. “And politics has become an ugly word, but it impacts everyone’s life whether they like it or not. And so CiviCare and all the political awareness and advocacy work I do is based on this: even if we don’t like politics itself, we have to participate in the process or we will be overlooked.”

Bleich manages to stay involved on all levels, even with two toddlers at home. She can’t stop contributing; it’s compulsory.

“Sometimes I wonder how I get things done because of how busy I am,” she said. “I look at my children’s faces and know I can’t not get it done.”

Though she’s aware that everyone can’t commit tons of time to community service, Bleich said there are ways each person can give back. 

“Anybody can find some small piece to participate in, even if it’s literally picking up a piece of trash when you walk down the street. You just did a huge thing. People forget that they don’t have to write a big check or dedicate a big part of their time [to a cause]. They just need to have a conscious effort to want to make good change.”

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