Clutching a BlackBerry and sporting a "Toomey for Senate" baseball cap and sweatshirt, Nachama Soloveichik is busy monitoring campaign tweets on three computers. With a few weeks to go until Election Day, she and the rest of Pat Toomey's campaign staff are in blitz mode, working 18-hour days.
Not that the 30-year-old director of communications minds. In an interview at Toomey's Allentown headquarters, Soloveichik, who is Modern Orthodox, said that she loves the fast-paced, constantly streaming nature of political campaigns in the digital age.
She's far from the first Orthodox Jew to enter the partisan fray. She just happens to have one of the most well-known family names in the Orthodox world. Joseph Ber Soloveitchik — his name incorporated a "t" — the longtime head of Yeshiva University's rabbinical seminary and a paramount thinker in the Orthodox movement, was her great-uncle. He died in 1993 at age 90; he'd been sick for some time, and the two never met, she said. Her grandfather Aaron was also a well-known rabbi, as is her father Eliyahu, who teaches Talmud at Touro College in New York City, where her parents now live.
Most of the time, she said, the fact that she's religious doesn't clash with the hectic lifestyle required to oversee the campaign's media message and strategy. But sometimes, it does.
Case in point: last month when the start of Sukkot was followed immediately by Shabbat, which for Soloveichik meant three whole days without campaign news. She acknowledged breaking down and walking the 31/2 miles from her apartment to the office — and later, back again — just to catch up on the latest poll numbers and find out "what was up."
"I could just go crazy for three days not knowing what's going on. Three days in politics is a lifetime," said Soloveichik, who grew up in an Orthodox enclave in the West Rodgers Park section of Chicago.
"I'm an incredibly antsy person; I get bored very easily. Campaigns are constantly changing and evolving, it's exciting, and there's a lot of adrenaline. I'm a pretty aggressive person, so politics suits that pretty well," she continued. "It's always good to be doing something that you believe in, as opposed to something you don't believe in."
What she believes in, she said, is limited government, lower taxes and personal responsibility. She's also admittedly on the conservative end of social issues, such as abortion.
These stances dovetail with Toomey's own philosophy, which is why she followed him from Washington, D.C., to Allentown, Pa., when he transitioned from his Club for Growth, a fiscally conservative group that advocates for limited government and lower taxes, to his run for the Senate seat currently held by U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter.
She also said that Toomey — and many Republicans — represent a strong pro-Israel voice.
A Conservative Philosophy
While the majority of Jews typically vote for Democrats, the Orthodox community has, by and large, been more receptive to the GOP message. Soloveichik — the second oldest of seven siblings — credited two of her brothers with helping steer her toward a conservative philosophy.
"I like to keep my money; I don't like when the government takes it. I don't have a lot of it," she said. "I don't think a lot of liberal policies make sense. They don't work. I think where the country is at right now is a good case in point."
After earning a master's in public policy at the University of Chicago, focusing on foreign policy, she considered an academic career. But she decided what she really wanted to do was work on a political campaign for an ideologically conservative candidate.
In 2005, she applied all over the country and wound up in Rhode Island, landing a job with Stephen Laffey, who was hoping to dislodge U.S. Sen. Lincoln Chafee in a Republican primary challenge. The campaign proved unsuccessful, but through that experience, she made some connections, which led to being hired by Toomey at his Club for Growth.
When Toomey declared his Senate candidacy in 2009, Soloveichik simultaneously announced she was moving to Allentown with him.
There, she attends the Orthodox Congregation Sons of Israel and frequents the city's two kosher bakeries. Asked if she plans to return to Washington if Toomey wins, she replied that she's not thinking much past Nov. 2, other than looking forward to catching up on sleep and taking a vacation.
She does, after all, have a life beyond politics, even though she said she almost never leaves Allentown these days. She has a boyfriend who often visits from New York. He happens to be a Democrat.
You'd think politics might be taboo, but that's not the case.
"It really doesn't matter if you are a Democrat or a Conservative, as long as you are interested in what's going on in the world," she said. "This is what I do, like 22 hours a day. If I didn't talk about it, I got nothing else to talk about."