Some say that to be Jewish is to ask questions. Sophia Yassinger—one of TBA's teens--is a bright and passionate seeker and not afraid to challenge life's toughest questions.
Sophia is a rising sophomore in high school at Marlborough in Los Angeles. Her very first experience in a school setting was at the Early Childhood Center (ECC) of Pressman Academy, where she built some of her strongest and most lasting friendships. She went through Pressman until the 1st grade, and also attended the JLC and Yachad Teens. She is currently involved in the Rosh Chodesh group for girls in 8th-12th grade.
Sophia has attended Marlborough's all-girls school for middle and high school. Although going to an all-girls school poses social limitations, for purely academic reasons, she absolutely loves how it's provided her and her peers the opportunity to express their voices whole heartedly. Sophia feels like it is so liberating to not worry about appearances and unnecessarily get caught up with clothes and makeup.
Sophia is a seeker. She asks questions such as why/how being Jewish even matters and the choices we have and don't have. Sophia wasn't given the choice to be born into the world as a Jew. She could have been born into a very different life, such as into an Asian family practicing Buddhism or a black family practicing Islam. And yet, what she's very clear about is how she always feel a magnetic energy and pull towards other Jews. She loves being social in a Jewish environment where she shares similar values and experiences. Her closest friends are Jewish, and she tends to gravitate to other Jewish students in the secular schools she attends.
Over the past few months, Sophia, along with much of the country, has been going through a real awakening regarding social inequalities due to the color of one's skin, systemic racism, and privilege. Although she will never fully walk in the shoes of those who deal with racial profiling on a daily basis, she has become fully invested in trying to open her ears and eyes and listen to the experiences of others.
At the same time, she is confused and upset by the thriving anti-Semitism she sees within some of the very movements combating systemic racism. Sophia strongly believes that the only way we can reach peace and equality is by uniting as minorities and oppressed groups instead of perpetuating the cycle of blame, violence, and hate. And she believes that this can start within our community.
Sophia is very committed to transferring her new awakening into action. She recently reached out to TBA staff to take the steps towards building ties between our teens and teens from other religious/minority communities.
Across countries and continents, our world has seen a rise of empowerment in youth to create powerful change in the world. Sophia's leadership and desire for Justice and building bridges throughout Los Angeles for teens is truly inspiring.
If you know of a teen who may be interested in getting involved, feel free to have them contact our Director of Youth and Teen Programs, Reut Sklar, at firstname.lastname@example.org.