Free spirit, freethinker.
Earlier this spring, with ice still in the Garden (Madison Square Garden), Seth Mandel announced to his wife Bethany, “I have something very important to tell the baby,” the firstborn they’re expecting in the fall.
“That’s how I knew the Rangers won,” Bethany tweeted. Mandel tweets early and often, as might be expected from someone who coordinates the social media presence — Facebook, Twitter, blogs — for Commentary, where Seth is assistant editor.
John Podhoretz, Commentary’s editor, says, “Bethany combines exuberance with moral seriousness. As a young person who has spent much of her life inside the Internet, she manages it like a pilot of an advanced aircraft manages his plane.”
A graduate of Rutgers with a degree in history and Jewish studies, Mandel worked at the Heritage Foundation, the conservative think tank, before moving to Commentary. Aside from her written insights, she’s an increasingly sought-after voice, appearing on CNBC’s “The Kudlow Report,” “Huffington Post Live” and “BBC World.”
Less than 10 years ago, when she was still a teenager, she had no family to live with after her mother’s untimely death. She learned to wrangle with government bureaucracies over Medicaid and other programs. Then, coming home in the dark to an apartment in a down-and-out corner of the Bronx, she’d race the shadows from her subway stop to the safety of her apartment.
Raised a leftist, “I had never really met anyone who was conservative or Republican. I just assumed they were all racists and crazy,” she laughs. But she met so many young people in the Bronx who “all had horror stories about growing up on welfare; it just didn’t seem that the system was helping anyone. These were smart kids who could have had a chance. It was heartbreaking to see two institutions — welfare and public schools — that I had grown up thinking were helpful to the poor actually hurting them.”
Having had a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother, she underwent an Orthodox conversion, and lives a Modern Orthodox life in Washington Heights.
“Commentary is really a perfect fit,” says Bethany. “It’s conservative. It’s Jewish. My co-workers are lovely. I’m with my husband. It can’t get better than this.”
Wanderlust: A traveler through 30 countries, having studied in Israel and Belgium and taught in Cambodia, she has also, via Twitter, raised money for North Korean refugees.