HEBREW NAME: Shem Yitzhak
CURRENT SCHOOL: Marblehead High, 11th grade
FAVORITE JEWISH FOOD: Potato latkes
FAVORITE JEWISH PERSON: Mark Cuban
FAVORITE JEWISH HOLIDAY: Hanukkah
FAVORITE MOVIES: The “Harry Potter” series
FAVORITE SONG: “The Bigger Picture”by Lil Baby
How is school going this year? Are you in person, hybrid, or remote? What’s it like?
School this year began fully remote, which definitely took an adjustment period at first to get used to a four-hour school day in front of a screen. Now, Marblehead High School is hybrid. Each grade is divided into two cohorts (A & B) where each cohort goes to school twice a week and then comes home to two online classes. The other three days of the week we are fully online. I like this model much more than fully remote as being in person allows me to learn more in depth and obtain extra help if I need it. Also, being in person allows me a chance to be more social, which was extremely limited during full remote. However, there are still some downsides to this system such as only two days of in-person learning, missing seeing half of my friends who are in the other cohort, and more paperwork as teaching lessons are very limited with the online setup.
What was your Jewish background growing up? Did you have a bar mitzvah? At what temple was it held?
I have grown up Jewish my entire life. I’ve always celebrated the major holidays and learned about all aspects of being Jewish, as well as my Jewish heritage from my mom and from Hebrew school growing up. I had my bar mitzvah at Chabad of the North Shore when I was 13.
How has your Jewish identity shaped you?
My Jewish identity has strongly shaped me by influencing all aspects of my life. I have grown up my whole life feeling a part of a tight-knit community going to temple, celebrating holidays, going to Jewish overnight camp, doing Jewish youth events and clubs. All of these activities have given me a community I feel a part of, and where I can meet people with similar values to me. They have also given me an outlet to meet new friends, go new places, and have new experiences.
Have you gone to Israel with the Lappin Foundation’s Youth to Israel Adventure? Have you been to Israel?
I have never gone to Israel before. I was supposed to go last summer with Y2I, however, due to COVID-19, I was not able to. Hopefully, I will get to go this summer. Regardless, it is important to me to go at least once in my lifetime, whether that is this summer or in college.
How was your experience with the Lappin Foundation’s Jewish Youth Leadership Seminar this summer?
It was amazing. I learned a ton of information and tools to be a great Jewish leader. Having many different speakers who each brought something new and unique to the conversation helped me to learn different leadership characteristics and techniques. This was very engaging and useful to me as I can apply it in my daily life at school with friends, and especially basketball. Being a great leader on the basketball court is very important to me because of my position as a point guard. The leadership seminar was one of the best tools I have utilized to improve on this skill.
You interviewed your grandfather, Dr. Charles Mann, for the youth leadership seminar’s veterans project. Can you sum up how that went?
Interviewing my grandfather was a great experience for me. I have always known my grandfather was in the Air Force and that he was very patriotic, but I never realized I hadn’t taken the chance to hear his story. This opportunity opened the door to an amazing conversation with him where I learned about how he joined the Air Force, what it was like every day, how it was being Jewish, some of his greatest memories, and also what he learned about being a leader. The biggest thing I learned from him was that leadership is a two-way street. When it comes to leadership, the leader cannot just order around people. The subordinates of the leader need to respect the leader and be willing to be led. In return, the leader has to gain the trust and respect of his subordinates so he can lead effectively. All of these stories meant a lot to me so I can hopefully tell my own children one day.
What is your dream job or profession after college? Where do you want to go to college and what do you want to study?
I have no specific dream college, however I love business so hopefully I can attend a great business school like Babson [College], for example. When I grow up, I hope to start my own business. I want to have the freedom to be my own boss and do something I love every day so I can give back to my community and provide for my family.