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CELEBRATING THE POWER OF YOUTH

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By: Ashira Weiss

 

It was only recently that Sasha Rubinsky decided what she wanted to be when she grows up; a public relations professional. Some may say however, that it is something she’s been doing her whole life.

 

In the last few days in particular, she’s had extra practice as peers at her public high school and coworkers at the Starbucks where she works five days a week, have plowed the teenager with questions and misinformation on the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Sasha stands her ground, answering as much as she knows and researching anything she isn’t yet sure of. “People put their trust in me as the Jewish person they know, to give them accurate information,” Sasha says. “It’s my job to learn as much as I can so I am able to inform and teach them.”

 

At the high school Sasha attends in Palm Desert, California, she is one of twenty Jews among the two thousand student body. She has come across situations she describes as “hurtful,” like when a teacher told her a Jewish Holiday isn’t a reason to miss class or when her classmates post antisemitic memes on social media. These incidents used to make her fearful and secretive about her Jewish identity, but as she learned more about her heritage, she became more outspoken and proud of who she was. The middle of three girls, she and her sisters even made a pact recently that they would all only marry Jewish.

 

A six-year veteran of Jewish summer camp, Sasha is looking forward to going back for the first time as a counselor this summer. At camp as well, she was the natural public relations pick when the directors asked her to speak at their gala dinner for alumni and supporters.

 

Camp also gave her an opportunity to travel on a volunteer mission to the Dominican Republic, which she describes as “one of the best experiences of my life.” In heat, humidity and torrential downpours, Sasha and her peers spent three weeks digging earth, painting and constructing as they repaired a playground for needy children. “It was a reality check for me; it made me realize how lucky I am for what I have,” she says. And as the group celebrated Shabbat each weekend Sasha had another realization; “No matter where I am, even in the Dominican Republic, I can celebrate being Jewish.” 

 

Sasha doesn’t just celebrate, she spends hours and hours each day doing all she can to help more Jewish teens celebrate their Jewishness too. Whether for her local chapter or as a CTeen International Advisory Board member, everyone knows Sasha will give a hundred percent and more to make sure each program is stellar. Here too, Sasha’s powers of public relations came to the fore as she was recently flown to New York to emcee CTeen’s virtual gala for thousands of teens around the world.

 

Graduating this week, Sasha is heading to a gap year program in Israel where she will earn college credits as she builds on her social, academic and communal leadership skills. As she volunteers, explores and lives in the land of her ancestors, she is getting into the ultimate first-hand research. For wherever her future takes her, Sasha will always be a PR ambassador for Israel and Jewish life.