Shalhevet alumna describes election from the Clinton Campaign headquarters

Mood changed from excitement to shiva after ‘frustrating’ effort to break glass ceiling


Photo from Yael Rabin

HEADQUARTERS: Alumna Yael Rabin ’10 posed at the entrance to Hillary Clinton’s national headquarters in Brooklyn, N.Y. “Politicians — they never sleep,” she said.

While America was busy reading articles, scanning polls or freaking out about the 2016 presidential campaign, Yael Rabin — Shalhevet class of 2010 — was working long hours as a volunteer for Hillary for America.

Just after Yom Kippur, Yael got a job in the campaign’s Communications Department at its national headquarters in Brooklyn, N.Y. About an hour’s subway ride away from where she lives on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, she was working there side-by-side with the leaders of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s campaign, including John Podesta, Jennifer Palmieri and Robby Mook.

She prepared press memos for vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine and former Senator Joe Lieberman when they were visiting Florida, and also worked near the desk of top Clinton aide and confidante.


“One day she smiled at me, and then the day or two after the election she made a comment about how the televisions were all off, which had never happened during the campaign,” Yael told The Boiling Point, “and I turned around and realized it was her so I said to her, ‘someone suggested that maybe we put on cartoons or something.’ And she laughed and said it was a good idea.”

Yael’s job consisted mainly of tracking and sending out clips – news stories published in print or online – of interest to the campaign’s various coalitions, including Jewish, Muslim, LGBT and Asian Americans. She had Google alerts set up for each of those groups so that whenever a related article was published, she would send it to her supervisor, who would then send it to the appropriate person for responses such as inclusion in campaign addresses.

“Clips are really important, especially in today’s news world, because the candidate and the team need to know what’s being reported and said about the candidate and the issues,” Yael said in an interview.

She wrote press releases and prepared talking points for surrogates who met with members of the news media. She also transcribed speeches and interviews that were either online or in articles, which she mentioned was a main function of a communications volunteer.

She said the job was incredibly time-consuming. Being shomer Shabbat (Sabbath-observant) meant that she had a lot of trouble on Fridays, when she had to rush home.

“Politicians — they never sleep, especially in the month of the election,” Yael said.

But it was worth it for Yael, who said always knew that she wanted to work in politics, and specifically political communication. After Shalhevet and then seminary at Midreshet Lindenbaum in Jerusalem, she majored in History and Judaic Studies at New York’s Binghamton University.

She had some experience from working on Israeli foreign policy in Los Angeles in the office of then-Consul General David Siegel. After a long search, a family friend who had done some work for former President Bill Clinton found a campaign position that fit exactly what she wanted.

Mrs. Clinton’s e-mail problems consumed much time and attention in the office. She described the increasing flare-ups of email leaks and investigations as “frustrating,” saying that the news was always on and she and her coworkers were constantly checking Twitter. Eyes were glued to screens for multiple hours, with everyone constantly watching for new information.

Because she started her job just after the second debate, she watched that one at home. But for the third and final debate between Secretary Clinton and Mr. Trump, Yael was at headquarters.

Yael said it was incredibly fun to watch, but that the people in the room were very serious. Watching the debate, she and her coworkers felt Mrs. Clinton’s drive and passion and felt inspired.

“We thought Hillary did great, but we knew people who supported Donald Trump thought he did great too,” Yael said.

As the campaign drew to a close, Yael and the other workers at Hillary for America were feeling confident. They felt their candidate would truly, as her one of her campaign slogans said, “break the glass ceiling” – meaning she would become the first-ever female president of the United States.

On the night of the election, Yael was helping out by manning the stairs at the Javits Center in New York, where the victory celebration was going to be held. She didn’t know what was going on because she was working. When she realized Trump might win, she was surprised and scared.

“At around 12:30 [a.m.], I sat down on the floor and just burst into tears,” Yael said.

Although there was a depressed feeling all around the room, she said, there was still a sense of togetherness.

“Everyone was in it together,” she said. “This woman I didn’t even know who had worked on the campaign tried to console me.”

The next day, Yael went back to the office. She described the aura of the office as that of a shiva house for the week that followed. She said there was a lot of hugging and tears, and everyone was devastated and absolutely shocked.

Yael said she still learned a lot and was really impacted by the campaign, and that it inspired her to continue work in politics.

Before this year, Yael had been registered as a Republican for a long time, but over the course of this year’s Republican primary campaign realized she felt alienated from the party’s positions. She said that while all her views were not all liberal, she felt that Hillary Clinton was the better choice for president.

And she had some advice for current Shalhevet students — both those who are interested in politics and those who aren’t. She said it’s important to expand your world view and always stay open to new ideas.

“Read different types of newspapers and articles,” Yael said. “It’s really important to understand both sides and where they’re coming from.”

She also said it’s important to gain a good understanding of your own view, and not only those of your parents or friends.