Jewish Journal


June 2, 2010

Jeffrey Kessler: Expanding Horizons Via Discussion, Debate

Jeffrey Kessler, 18 YULA (Going to: Princeton University)


Jeffrey Kessler

Jeffrey Kessler

It is almost pointless to ask Jeffrey Kessler what he does in his free time because it is hard to imagine he would have any.  Sure, he takes time to sleep, but very reluctantly. 

“I have time for three spheres,” he said. “School and extracurricular, friends and family, and sleep. I’d rather use my time for the first two.”

This Renaissance teen maintains an exceptional grade point average at YULA, interns for AIPAC in Los Angeles, argues perspectives in mock trial, serves as president of YULA’s Young Philosophers Society and still finds time to be editor-in-chief of his high-school newspaper. 

He also set aside five weeks last summer to participate in the Bronfman Youth Fellowships in Israel. Listening to and engaging with speakers and other teens from diverse Jewish backgrounds “changed the way I look at everything,” he said. 

So, what is the fuel behind a young adult with drive like that? 

“I love learning,” he says. In fact, that is what he is most looking forward to at Princeton. “I’m just really excited to study what I want to learn.”

Kessler also serves as student director for the YULA’s Boyle Heights Program. Once a week, he and some of his classmates head to the Catholic Resurrection School to tutor the mostly Latino kids in math and other subjects. 

Kessler is always eager to expand his intellectual horizons. He has three older, advice-giving siblings who offer perspective and life experience. He even enjoys the Bronfman Fellowship Listserv’s e-mail discussions of current events, which he said others often find annoying.

“You should hear people out and listen to their opinions,” he said. “Discussion and debate help me formulate who I am. It’s important to let people have their voices be heard.”

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