Alumni Profile: Amanda Botfeld

Amanda Botfeld2015 Jewish Studies Alumna, Amanda Botfeld, is now a Los Angeles-based writer whose work has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. Botfeld is also the author of A Girl’s Guide to Poker: a how-to book and strategy guide. “It’s a humor book– I wanted it to be funny and spunky– within the tradition of Jewish humor!” said Amanda.

When Amanda entered UC Santa Cruz, she had very little knowledge of the Middle Eastern Conflict and Jewish Identity. After proposing multiple majors, she tried courses in Jewish Studies, and realized she was on the right track. “Jewish Studies totally found me–more specifically, the Bible translation class I took (where we discussed interpretations of the bible) really made me curious to learn more about Jewish Studies. I couldn’t speak more highly about the Jewish Studies department.” Once she decided her academic path, she discovered the UCSC Leviathan Jewish Journal and became Editor and Chief where she wrote mostly about Israel and Politics and regional issues. During her time at Leviathan she helped the staff grow from 5 members to 30 and facilitated “Middle East updates”–or political discussions during meetings. “Leviathan was a space where I could think of Judaism creatively and beyond a religious sphere…I definitely recommend students join!” 

Along with her plentiful work with Leviathan, she received a UCSC Jewish Studies Undergraduate Research Award in 2015 for her piece: “Head Over Heart” (on how the findings of psychology can illuminate the mentality of the perpetrators of genocide). Upon graduation, Amanda was the commencement speaker for Rachel Carson College. She moved to Washington D.C. where she worked for various organizations such as: Stand with Us, The Israel Project and The Zionist Organization of America, and as of July 2019, she entered a new realm of interest by publishing her book: A Girl’s Guide to Poker.

Today, Amanda is back home in Santa Monica where she looks forward to writing more funny “Girl’s Guides” and possibly more political works. She emphasizes, “What I learned from Jewish Studies is that being Jewish is a perspective– everything you do is through a Jewish lens, whether you’re writing, going to a frat party or playing poker… you bring a Jewish presence.”


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