November 19, 2018

Pursuing Her Passions: Teaching and Judaism

Rena Perl, 17
High School: Harkham-Gaon Academy
Going to: Cal State Northridge

If Rena Perl ever decides to abandon her dream of becoming a teacher and pursue politics, she may have the attitude for it.

“If there is something I have learned throughout my life, it is nothing is black and white,” Perl said in a phone interview. “It bothers me people are so adamant about their opinions that it prevents things from getting done. It divides us more than is necessary.”

Perl, the valedictorian at Harkham-GAON Academy, is Orthodox but she has cultivated unorthodox experiences. She has never visited Israel but she is not planning to enroll in a seminary or sign up for Birthright. After middle school, she looked beyond the local major Orthodox day schools when selecting a high school.

She opted for a Jewish day school that offers blended and online learning that allows students to undertake courses for college credit at Santa Monica College (SMC) as part of a dual-enrollment program. 

Perl is graduating from Harkham after only three years, and she already has taken courses at SMC in philosophy, biology, art history and child development. She has developed an interest in artist Edgar Degas, a French impressionist known for his paintings of ballerinas. 

Perl is something of an amateur ballerina herself. “People tend to tell me I am quite graceful,” she said. “I think I have a natural propensity for it. Dance is used for celebration for a reason, so I think it is quite fun.

This summer and fall, when she is not at a ballet class, Perl will continue to take classes at SMC. She plans to transfer to Cal State Northridge in spring 2019 to pursue a bachelor’s degree and teaching credential. Eager to start her career as a teacher, she already has taken the California Basic Educational Skills Test.

“I’ve always been passionate about becoming a teacher,” she said. “I’ve always loved kids. I feel like I definitely have the talent for it. I’ve been tutoring a long time and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.” 

At Harkham, she has taken part in the Yeshiva University National Model United Nations program. She represented Yemen, Sierra Leone and Qatar, respectively, in ninth, 10th and 11th grades.

The Model U.N. program, she said, has heightened her interest in world affairs. Particularly valuable was meeting with the permanent mission to Sierra Leone while in New York.

“What I really liked is we talked about issues and had intelligent conversations, and they liked what we were saying,” she said. “Just kind of helping people is something that I think definitely calls to me. I learned that from Model U.N.”

Perl also recently volunteered to become an advocate for the Borgen Project, an organization that combats global poverty. This summer, she will work as a counselor at JCamp, which is run out of the Westside Jewish Community Center.

Children, along with Judaism, are her greatest passions. 

“I feel Judaism really adds something special that satisfies your soul,” she said. “And if you don’t have it, there will be something lacking.”

abandon her dream of becoming a teacher and pursue politics, she may have the attitude for it.

“If there is something I have learned throughout my life, it is nothing is black and white,” Perl said in a phone interview. “It bothers me people are so adamant about their opinions that it prevents things from getting done. It divides us more than is necessary.”

Perl, the valedictorian at Harkham-GAON Academy, is Orthodox but she has cultivated unorthodox experiences. She has never visited Israel but she is not planning to enroll in a seminary or sign up for Birthright. After middle school, she looked beyond the local major Orthodox day schools when selecting a high school.

She opted for a Jewish day school that offers blended and online learning that allows students to undertake courses for college credit at Santa Monica College (SMC) as part of a dual-enrollment program. 

“If there is something I have learned throughout my life, it is nothing is black and white.”

Perl is graduating from Harkham after only three years, and she already has taken courses at SMC in philosophy, biology, art history and child development. She has developed an interest in artist Edgar Degas, a French impressionist known for his paintings of ballerinas. 

Perl is something of an amateur ballerina herself. “People tend to tell me I am quite graceful,” she said. “I think I have a natural propensity for it. Dance is used for celebration for a reason, so I think it is quite fun.

This summer and fall, when she is not at a ballet class, Perl will continue to take classes at SMC. She plans to transfer to Cal State Northridge in spring 2019 to pursue a bachelor’s degree and teaching credential. Eager to start her career as a teacher, she already has taken the California Basic Educational Skills Test.

“I’ve always been passionate about becoming a teacher,” she said. “I’ve always loved kids. I feel like I definitely have the talent for it. I’ve been tutoring a long time and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.” 

At Harkham, she has taken part in the Yeshiva University National Model United Nations program. She represented Yemen, Sierra Leone and Qatar, respectively, in ninth, 10th and 11th grades.

The Model U.N. program, she said, has heightened her interest in world affairs. Particularly valuable was meeting with the permanent mission to Sierra Leone while in New York.

“What I really liked is we talked about issues and had intelligent conversations, and they liked what we were saying,” she said. “Just kind of helping people is something that I think definitely calls to me. I learned that from Model U.N.”

Perl also recently volunteered to become an advocate for the Borgen Project, an organization that combats global poverty. This summer, she will work as a counselor at JCamp, which is run out of the Westside Jewish Community Center.

Children, along with Judaism, are her greatest passions. 

“I feel Judaism really adds something special that satisfies your soul,” she said. “And if you don’t have it, there will be something lacking.”