Rose Bern isn’t afraid to fight for her values.
The 17-year-old, who recently graduated from Shalhevet High School and lives in Westwood, has strong convictions when it comes to feminism, justice and fairness.
In the ninth grade, she gave a passionate speech at her school about women serving as rabbis. She sits on the Fairness Committee, where she and her peers hear cases between two students or a teacher and a student and decide upon a verdict. One day, she might even decide to be a prosecuting attorney and “serve justice to people who deserve it,” she said. “There are certain issues that really get me pumped up.”
Her former music appreciation teacher and journalism advisor Joelle Keene has noticed Bern’s enthusiasm about different causes.
“She's a firecracker,” she said. “She has a tremendous amount of passion, personality, drive and a sense of outrage too.”
Keene said that at Shalhevet, Bern’s candid nature made her stand out amongst the other students.
“She gets fired up about the way things ought to be,” she said. “At the town hall meetings at school, where they present a moral dilemma about school policy, news or the dress code, she'll feel more strongly about it than most of the kids.”
No doubt this tremendous energy has served Bern well in other areas of her life as well, whether through the award-winning writing she did for Shalhevet’s newspaper, The Boiling Point; her acting in numerous drama productions; or her passionate work on the debate team. She even wrote three one-act plays that were produced.
Somehow, she still finds time to be a babysitter every other Shabbat at her shul, the Westwood Village Synagogue, and work as a counselor at Camp Ramah in California.
In 2014, she’ll attend New York University (NYU). But before she goes to the East Coast, she’s taking a yearlong trip to Israel, where she plans to live on multiple kibbutzim and travel the country.
“I really wanted a year to decompress, and I think this is the prime opportunity to do this,” she said. “Once you go to college you don't have much time to explore the world.”
Though Bern said she doesn’t know what she’ll major in at NYU or what kind of career she will end up choosing, she’s interested in the fields of law and psychology.
“I took Advanced Placement psychology this year, and it was the most fascinating thing in the world,” she said. “[Learning about] the way people behave and why they behave that way, [as well as about] their inner consciousness really struck me.”
What’s most important to Bern is making sure that she is content with whatever she chooses to do.
“I want to make sure that at the end of my life, I did everything I could,” she said. “I want to be able to look back and say I did it all because I wanted to, and I didn’t let outside circumstances, like money, [dictate my life]. I just want to be happy.”