Milken Community High School senior Leah Gluck is dedicated to raising awareness about genocide, even though it seems so distant and unsolvable.
“I think it’s an issue that really is very far away for a lot of people at my school ... and I think that it’s important,” Gluck said.
Since her freshman year, the 18-year-old has worked with Jewish World Watch (JWW), a nonprofit that focuses on preventing genocide and mass atrocities across the globe as well as engaging individuals and communities to take action locally.
Gluck recently co-created an exhibition, “From Darkness to Light,” set in Milken’s beit midrash, spotlighting the genocide in Darfur and human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Gluck planned the exhibition over the course of nearly five months and built the displays during a 15-hour marathon. Student docents led their peers through “From Darkness to Light,” which featured video interviews with victims, photographs of refugee camps, drawings made by children living in camps, and an “action center” where students pledged to become involved with JWW.
For the exhibition’s culmination, Gluck led an effort that consisted of Milken’s entire student body calling the White House at once to discuss Sudan. “That was super cool,” she said.
Gluck has put her design skills to use as head editor of Milken’s yearbook, serving as the point person for section editors and student staff members.
She also spends considerable time in the water, as a member of Milken’s water polo and swim teams. This summer, she plans to work as a lifeguard at Camp Ramah.
Outside of her JWW advocacy, Gluck gets her tikkun olam fix volunteering with KOREH L.A., an organization that helps young students develop their reading abilities, and she spends every Shabbat supervising young children of adult congregants at B’nai David-Judea, leading them in davening, play time and various activities.
This fall, Gluck will attend Washington University in St. Louis, where she might pursue her interest in psychology.
For now, she has enough on her plate to keep her busy.
“I’m just used to not getting home until 7,” she said.