May 22, 2019
“In a world full of prejudice and hate, peace can only be possible through education,” Rachel Rubins spoke, sweeping her eyes from the floor to ceiling of the American Jewish Museum in Philadelphia in December of 2018. Public speaking was nothing new to Rubins; with a background in musical theater, she’s become quite comfortable with performing for a crowd. But addressing a room full of adults about an international crisis? Few, if any, high schoolers can put that on their resumé.
“Saying I grew up in a political family would be an understatement,” Rubins pronounced with a smile. In addition to remaining entrenched in local politics, her grandparents became friends with Bill and Hillary Clinton during college (it’s no surprise that Rubins and her family were deeply involved during the 2016 election). Rubins’s grandmother was also “the first woman to sue her company for firing her for being pregnant, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is now [on] the Supreme Court, was her lawyer. Although [they] lost [the case], it became a landmark case in the fight for the right to work while pregnant,” exclaimed Rubins proudly.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Rubins grew up “hosting organizers in [her home] as well as door-knocking and phone-banking.” Last summer, she interned on the campaign of Ariana Kelly, a popular Maryland delegate (state representative) who happens to be Rubins’s cousin.
“Growing up with my grandparents as role models, I’ve learned the importance of being involved in politics and sticking up for your rights,” asserted Rubins.
In the summer before her sophomore year, Rubins was asked by her friend Divya Sood to help start and serve as the co-president of a Democrats Club at North Penn.
“At first,” Rubins explained, “our club was about 3 members. But now, we have over 60 members on our Google classroom, [coordinated a] large voter registration drive with the Republicans Club, and [had] many political figures come to speak, such as Congresswoman Madeleine Dean. . . I could not be prouder of our club.”
Rubins may be extremely involved in American politics, but her propensity for problem-solving doesn’t stop there; over the past few years, she’s become increasingly interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“When I went to the Kids4Peace Global Institute, [a summer program at George Washington University], it really solidified how I want to make an impact on the world. I had the opportunity to talk and discuss issues around the world with. . . both Israelis and Palestinians, two groups that are known for their [aversion] towards the other. I was then [chosen for the] StandWithUs High School Internship,” a position with a nonprofit organization that works to end anti-Semitism, explained Rubins.
She continued, “I learned how to present the facts about Israelis and Palestinians, and I got to take what I learned and bring it back to my community. I did presentations at my synagogue about the conflict so that my peers are equipped with the truth. Through StandwithUs, I also [had] the opportunity to speak at a gala at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia about my experiences spreading awareness about this conflict.”
Rubins plans to continue her passion for human rights beyond this school year. This summer, she was selected to participate in a six-week bus trip around the United States, where she and several other students from around the country will tour landmark sites and learn about social justice.
“We are starting in the South [to learn] about the Civil Rights Movement, and as we move further out West, we will get to meet different groups of people, such as the NRA and Pro-life Dallas, but also Columbine survivors and Planned Parenthood. We will get to see all different types of America and learn how to find common ground,” said Rubins.
In a complex world of tension and polarization, it’s easy to dismiss, villainize, and ignore. But while Rubins is aware of the competing interests and high stakes surrounding nearly every political issue, her goal isn’t to divide.
“I want to bring people together,” finished Rubins.
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