Sarah Hurwitz: New Heights for the Milton “Mickey” Kramer Scholar-in-Residence Fund and Tidewater Together

by | Nov 24, 2019 | What’s Happening

Sunday, December 8, 10 am, Temple Emanuel, Free

The Storyteller’s Story—Michelle Obama’s trailblazing speechwriter forges new path, again

Sarah Hurwitz was Michelle Obama’s speechwriter. Now she’s dubbed Judaism’s speechwriter.

If grace and gravitas were a big box brand, Sarah Hurwitz would be the one to beat. Sarah Hurwitz is not a name brand, but that didn’t stop her from making her mark around the world. As stated in her conversation with Melanie Newman at the Communications Network convention in Miami Beach earlier this year, Hurwitz overcame serious risk aversion and the sting of national campaign losses to accept the position of Obama White House speechwriter. She pushed through defeat more than once, showing the White House, and the world, what political speeches should ‘look’ like.

Hurwitz shared her #1 Rule: “Talk like a human being,” says Hurwitz. “Talk like yourself.”

The power of speaking your truth resonated universally when First Lady Michelle Obama delivered the resonant ‘when they go low, we go high’ speech. During her exchange with Newman, Hurwitz credits the former First Lady for its impact. “That was her line entirely—not a slogan,” says Hurwitz. “It reflects how Mrs. Obama approaches life and speeches.” In politics and social enterprise, Hurwitz is a big believer in delivering edgy and uncomfortable messaging, if it’s your deepest, most important truth on that particular day.

Hurwitz amplified Michelle Obama’s strong voice, forced nothing, and went on a seven-year speechwriting spree with the First Lady, supporting her desire to connect with diverse audiences through inclusive stories and images.

Their secret sauce was getting out of each other’s way to co-create storytelling magic.

“Write like a person” sounds simple, but maybe it’s not. So many charismatic people, especially politicians, swing the other way.

What’s a nice Jewish girl doing in a place like this?

Audiences that gather to hear Hurwitz tell her story ‘see’ the White House through a Jewish lens. When she talks to community groups about being Jewish in the White House, as if that were the most natural place for a Jewish female to create groundbreaking content, make her mark, and be taken seriously—or even respected—her story is filtered through a very personal Jewish point of reference.

Looking back on a decade of political speech writing, she finds a common theme: Jewish values.

At ComNet, she concedes that people’s perception of her might not align with someone who connects to Michelle Obama’s backstory. On paper, a white, Jewish daughter of a corporate attorney from a Boston suburb doesn’t fit the profile of someone who can relate to an African American female, raised in a working-class family on Chicago’s south side. Hurwitz sets that record straight when she talks about her grandmother and Michelle Robinson Obama’s father–two beloved influencers of their respective careers and outlook on life. “To my grandmother and Michelle’s father, education was religion,” says Hurwitz.

No longer a White House speechwriter, Hurwitz continues speaking at conventions, to businesses, and to companies about the value of ‘writing like a person.’

With that, she continues to blaze new trails.

A first-time author, Hurwitz is a spiritual late bloomer whose soulful persona manifests in enlightenment bundled in self-deprecation and humility. In Here All Along, Finding Meaning, Spirituality, and a Deeper Connection to Life-in Judaism (After Finally Choosing to Look There), Hurwitz shares her Jewish journey to enrich lives, not fix them. She wasn’t broken and didn’t set out on a mission. With extra time on her hands, (post-White House and romantic break-up,) Hurwitz seized the opportunity to explore the gap between the richness of Judaism, and the way so many Jews, just like her, experience and understand it.

To hear more of her story, join Sarah Hurwitz for brunch at Temple Emanuel with Congregation Beth Chaverim. Free and open to the community, RSVP required.

Tidewater Together is a collaboration between the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater and area synagogues to provide opportunities to connect Jewishly on a variety of topics, offering something for everyone.

To RSVP and to learn more about Tidewater Together visit, or contact Sierra Lautman, director of Jewish Innovation, at 757-965-6107 or

Lisa Richmon