Milken Community Schools
Going to: Skidmore College
When Emma Bloom sat down to talk with Holocaust survivors at her school as part of the Righteous Conversations Project, an organization that connects teens with survivors, she was inspired to think about what she could do to make a positive impact on the world.
“It was almost indescribable,” she said. “Some of the best memories I have from this program were when I would sit one on one with the survivors. Their stories were so incredible. When you talk about your daily life with them one on one, they have so much wisdom and advice.”
The encounters that began in 2013 at Milken Community Schools represented the first time that Bloom, 18, had met a survivor. They sparked something extraordinary in her.
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After meeting with the survivors, Bloom and her peers made “Dear 13-Year-Old Me,” a video and public service announcement (PSA), as part of the project. It featured Bloom, along with some of her friends and collaborators, speaking to the camera as if they were talking to themselves when they were 13.
“We said insecurities we had when we were that age,” Bloom said. “We talked about how we were now, exiting high school, and what we’ve learned about how to get past our insecurities. We used what we had taken from Holocaust survivors about dignity and self-respect and put together what I think was a very good PSA.”
Bloom also took part in activities held by the Righteous Conversations Project at its Harvard-Westlake Summer Film Program. She produced another PSA called “Open the Door,” which encourages teens to seek out friends in need who are suffering from depression, anxiety and low self-esteem. “Open the Door” and “Dear 13-Year-Old Me” were shown at local and national student film festivals.
Bloom also has volunteered at The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles’ children’s literacy program KOREH L.A., where she tutored elementary schools students, and Circle of Friends, which paired her with a special-needs student.
In the fall, Bloom will attend Skidmore College in New York. Although she’s undecided about her major, she said she’s considering neuroscience and psychology.
“I was so fascinated by the brain, and [when I was younger] I first started exploring it. I’m looking forward to pursuing it in college but also keeping my options open,” she said.
Samara Hutman, executive director at Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, who co-created the Righteous Conversations Project, said she’s been impressed by Bloom’s work and character.
“Emma is a leader in a very strong but gentle way. She is very humble but powerful and genuine. She is a deeply authentic young woman,” she said.
Creating the PSA and talking with Holocaust survivors taught Bloom big life lessons that she expects to carry with her to college and beyond.
“Righteous Conversations really shows you the difference that one person can make,” she said. “I had never really realized that before. It wasn’t only a good time. It was also so fun and fascinating. At the end of the day, you go home and you made a difference.”