July 21, 2019

Seeking Justice With a Side of Humor

Clara Sandler, 17
High School: Shalhevet
College: University of Chicago

Clara Sandler is a self-described “goof” who can recite near-complete episodes of “The Office.” But there’s another side to the modern Orthodox teen. According to Joelle Keene, faculty adviser for Shalhevet’s Boiling Point newspaper where Sandler was co-editor-in-chief this year, “Sandler is a fearless person who dives into challenging situations with a gusto that makes her a born leader. … [She is] steeped in moral reasoning … and a thinker of passion and impact.”

This summer, after a monthlong stint as a counselor at her beloved Moshava Alevy camp in Running Springs, Sandler will head to Israel. There, she will spend a year at Midreshet Lindenbaum seminary in Jerusalem, “just immersing myself in Jewish texts and appreciating the Torah and Talmud and learning as much as I can using the logic and beauty of religious text to influence my identity and practices and my thought process,” she told the Journal.

She hopes these studies will help her become a “well-informed Jew and raise my kids with a strong Jewish identity.” She also intends to minor in Jewish studies at the University of Chicago, after her gap year.

Sandler’s father is an immigration attorney, and her mother, a Mexican immigrant, is a therapist. So politics plays a large part in Sandler’s life. “Every Shabbat table session turns political whether we think it’s going to or not,” she said.

“I will never not want to be president.”

Sandler volunteered for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, watches “too much CNN,” and is considering a career in politics or law. 

“I’d love to be a constitutional lawyer,” she said. She might even run for president or become a Supreme Court justice. “I will never not want to be president,” she said. “I really want to help people,” she added. “I have been trying to think about the best way for me to help people.”

In addition to her top-of-the-masthead role on the school newspaper, Sandler was co-captain of her Model United Nations team and participated in MAJIC: the Jewish-Muslim High School Leadership Council, a program of NewGround, which involved getting together once or twice a month with a group of Jewish and Muslim teens and learning from and about one another. 

“I really love being Jewish,” Sandler, who attends Saturday services just about every week at Adat Ari El in Valley Village near her home, said. She is fascinated with Yiddish, though she knows only a few words. And among her favorite foods are kasha varnishkes and potato knishes. “My friends make fun of me because I’m so Ashkenazi,” she said.

Sandler does have one pastime she describes as “weird nerdy”: looking at pictures of pretty libraries on the internet. “University of Chicago’s Harper reading room looks like Hogwarts,” she said. “That may or may not be why I decided to go there. I will neither confirm nor deny.”


Keep on reading about our 2019 Outstanding Seniors here.