Job: Student, tour guide, and private tutor at University of California Los Angeles
Currently living in: Los Angeles
Schools: Marblehead High School ‘21, UCLA ‘25
Favorite food: All kinds of soups
Favorite movie: “Get Out”
Favorite TV show: “Money Heist”
Favorite books: “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo;” anything by Emily Henry
Favorite activities: Playing piano, dancing, spending time at the beach, trying new foods
Favorite travel destinations: Vienna, Italy, Israel
Somewhere you’d like to go next: Greece
Favorite Jewish person not in your family: Ben Platt
Favorite Jewish holiday: Rosh Hashanah
Favorite North Shore spot: Village Street Dock in Marblehead
What is your Jewish background?
I went to a Jewish preschool, Shirat Hayam, but after that I wasn’t very much involved with the Jewish community. I’m Russian Jewish, but my parents’ identity was closer to their Russian roots in terms of culture and food and stuff like that. Going into high school, I was introduced to an organization called [B’nai B’rith Youth Organization], and met a lot of Jewish friends. And from there, I kind of took the liberty of involving myself in the Jewish community, not necessarily pushed by my family; Just because I wanted to. I became really involved in BBYO in terms of leadership, in terms of learning about my Jewish background, and that was all strengthened when I went on the Youth to Israel trip.
You served as regional president of BBYO.
I was first our chapter’s vice president of recruitment, then became regional president of recruitment, then was regional president during our COVID year, which was very difficult, because everything was online, and the whole purpose of the program is to have a lot of Jewish kids meet in-person. Our region still grew, and a lot of connections were made across the entirety of New England, so I was very thankful for that.
You also helped found a Jewish Student Union at Marblehead High School.
A friend and I actually started that after going on the Y2I trip, because we realized how many people in our high school were Jewish but really didn’t talk about it – we just saw them on the trip, but didn’t realize they were Jewish before that. We wanted to bring the Jewish teens in Marblehead High School together earlier, throughout their whole time in high school. I feel like it creates a smaller community within a large high school. I’m glad because after we graduated, it still continued on, and that made me feel like it was definitely worth it.
What was it like to be in high school during the pandemic?
It was definitely really difficult for me. I was on the Holocaust Legacy Fellows, and that was canceled. Elections for BBYO went online, prom was canceled, and unfortunately one of my really close friends in BBYO passed away in a car accident at the peak of COVID. That was a very tragic time for me personally, emotionally. But I think it also made me realize who was there for me, who were my really close friends, and who I can trust for the rest of my life. So I think in a way that was pro, but it was definitely hard, and especially applying to colleges was just madness. All these rules were changing, so it was very stressful, but I think toward the end of senior year it worked out, because cases were minimized and we were able to have an in-person graduation.
How’s life at UCLA?
UCLA’s honestly been amazing. Not only from the programs and opportunities that I’ve experienced, but I’ve just met some of the best people that I’m going to know for the rest of my life. I’m pursuing a double minor in Spanish and entrepreneurship.
What do you think Gen Z looks for in its Jewish experience?
I think that a lot of why people get really proud of their Jewish identity is they really look for that tight-knit community. You find out the other person is Jewish, and you’re automatically friends, you automatically feel like you’re connected. Especially in this day and age where everyone feels like they’re “connected” through social media, I think this allows them to truly get away from that social media following aspect and really have a more personal connection, and I think that’s really special, and that goes across all the communities I’ve experienced.
The interview was edited and condensed.