As editor-in-chief of The Boiling Point, Shalhevet’s award-winning newspaper, Lexi Gelb grapples with social and political issues that range from the conflict in the Congo to the intersection of fashion and philosophy.
Despite the depth demonstrated in her work, Gelb said she never intended to be a journalist. “I like creative writing and English a lot,” she said, “but newspaper was one type of outlet where I could do writing that I wasn’t accustomed to.”
Her curiosity and ability to delve into whatever subject comes across her path is part of what defines the Shalhevet High School senior. It’s also what landed her, last summer, in Sderot, a war-torn part of Israel just outside of Gaza that has been the regular target of rocket attacks.
Spurning the idea of going with an organized group, Gelb planned her trip alone, coordinating with contacts in the area via phone and e-mail.
While there, she stayed with a family she had never met before. For three weeks, she packed food, worked at a day camp and helped out at the Sderot media center. All the while, she tried to understand how the struggle is having a direct impact on people. “I wanted to put myself in that situation and empathize with them,” she said.
Back at school, Gelb became involved in another international cause. After watching a documentary about the Congo, she said, she was so depressed that she couldn’t focus on her work, and so she decided to take action.
“The conflicts in Africa are all interconnected,” she said. And so, following a presentation at her school that touched on the problems facing Uganda, she spent several weeks fundraising at her school for a new school to be built there. In doing so, she raised not just money, but also awareness.
“A lot of people are interested in politics but dismiss issues as not being relevant to them or not being interesting,” she said. “[This was] an opportunity to enlighten other people.”
Gelb will head to Hebrew University in Jerusalem this fall and to the University of California, Berkeley, in the fall of 2011. Based on her passion for writing, she said, it’s likely she’ll pursue a degree in English or journalism. But, she added, it’s always possible that another subject will catch her analytical eye.