Currently Living in: Marblehead
High School: Marblehead High School ’17
School: UMass Amherst
Favorite Food: A fat burrito
Favorite Jewish Food: Bagels
Favorite Music: Rap
Favorite Singer: Joni Mitchell, Future
Favorite Book: “Housekeeping” by Marilynne Robinson
Favorite Movie: “The Godfather”
Favorite Place to Travel: Alaska
Favorite Jewish Person not in Family: Adam Sandler
JJ: What was your Jewish background growing up?
LF: I did not know I was Jewish until I was 10 or 11. My father was Jewish, but it wasn’t important to him or for us to know. I grew up celebrating Christmas with my mother’s side of the family when I was a little kid. I have a brother who’s 10 years younger than me, so we do gifts with him still, but it’s not like we go to church or anything like that. I didn’t know any Jewish kids growing up, either.
JJ: What was it like moving from Gloucester to Marblehead?
LF: The reason we moved from Gloucester was because Gloucester didn’t have the best school system. My father also worked in Peabody, and Marblehead is much closer than Gloucester is. I was not looking for, nor expected, a large Jewish community when I moved. It wasn’t something visible in Gloucester. There was a significant culture shock when I moved – Marblehead is much smaller and wealthier than Gloucester, and Judaism was much more prominent. It’s like every other kid there was Jewish.
JJ: What’s the origin of your last name, Frankenstein?
LF: It’s German, and as far as I can tell, no connection to Mary Shelley. One time, my dad was pulled over in Salem sometime during October. He blew past a stop sign down by the point and got pulled over. The officer looked at his ID and said, “OK, Frankenstein? You’re good to go.” I would say I’m satisfied with my last name.
JJ: How do you feel about the BDS events on the UMass campus?
LF: I didn’t have a problem with the event, it didn’t bother me personally. Without knowing what kids were actually saying, I didn’t see it as something negative. I think there needs to be room for this conversation to take place. However, when people start talking about things they don’t know, then there’s the issue. It’s kind of a weird issue – college students seem to always have something to say about it. They’re passionate about something, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
JJ: What was it like transferring from Bard College to UMass?
LF: Everything at Bard was unique and intense. It was sick. There were some weird classes that I can’t seem to find at UMass. However, Bard was in the middle of nowhere, the campus was really depressing – everything was really performative and political, but only at a surface level. It felt like an Instagram page. It was insanely small, I couldn’t do much off-campus, there were only really the other people. For me personally, UMass is much better. It feels like I’m actually a part of the world – Bard felt strange and detached at some times. The larger ecosystem of UMass feels less suffocating.
JJ: How has taking Hebrew classes been for you?
LF: As an English major, I needed [to complete] a language requirement in order to graduate. I’ve always wanted to learn the Alef-Bet, and be able to read and write in Hebrew. I saw it as a challenge for myself. Indirectly, it has made me feel more Jewish. All of my classmates are Jewish, and has given me the community feeling I never with other Jewish kids. At Marblehead and Bard I had many Jewish peers, but I never felt the sense of a Jewish community for myself. Being able to speak and write in Hebrew is an aspect of Judaism I am now able to claim for myself.
JJ: Are you excited to spend a semester in Minnesota?
LF: I am psyched for my plane to touch down mid-January in Minnesota. I like the idea of being in the Midwest. I wanted to be in a city, but the East Coast cities are crazy gentrified, and I hate the thought of the West Coast. I’ve never been, but it seems overrated and doesn’t interest me. Minnesota was the first place that popped into my head. I’m looking forward to spending time in the Twin Cities. I will be taking Hebrew at the University of Minnesota next semester as well.