Introducing our new Program Associate, Valeriya Epshteyn!


Shalom all! I hope this introductory blog finds you well. I’m frankly starstruck to be writing to you from my platform as DJJ’s new Program Associate.



I hail from Kharkiv, Ukraine and a couple metro Detroit suburbs. I grew up in a non-observant household but attended Tamarack Camps my second year of Fishman through Agree Outpost. Tamarack was my original mainstay for Jewish learning, and I credit it with introducing me to transformative ideas about respect for environment. 

When Dr. Dorceta Taylor introduced me to Environmental Justice in my sophomore year of college, my mindset shifted. I learned how those on the margins of the margins are saddled with the brunt of the pollution because of systemic, historically-derived oppressions.

I graduated in May 2017 from the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor with a B.A. in Environmental Justice and Activism through the Program in the Environment. As a student, I lived in the Inter-Cooperative Council coops, organized for fossil fuel divestment, and built student youth organizer capacity statewide with the Michigan Student Power Network. I also supported the Midwest Environmental Justice Network, and was active in the Graham Sustainability Institute. My organizing chops were really built in student communities, and deepened through my interaction with Detroit's Environmental Justice organizing community thanks to the University of Michigan Semester in Detroit (SiD) program.

I met Rabbi Alana and the DJJ community when I did SiD. DJJ and T’chiyah gave me a second chance at Judaism. The things that give me joy in addition to Jewish spirituality and organizing include writing, learning how to grow food, and spending time with human and non-human critters outdoors. 

My main DJJ project at the moment is supporting the work of so many DJJ leaders and partner organizations who have collaborated on the ‘67 Rebellion Series. If you’d like to get together, reach me at or (248) 802-5302. I look forward to meeting and building with you.

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