Rivka Abbe, 18


Lobbying for Israel.

For Rivka Abbe, helping Jews has always been part of the dinner-table discussion. “My father, now 74, has spent a life of activism helping Jews escape Ethiopia, Syria, Russia, and Romania,” Abbe said. “The question for me was never if I’m going to help Jews, but how.”

She found the answer through political activism, dedicating much of her high school experience to educating her peers about Israel and organizing large-scale lobby missions to Capitol Hill. In October of 2012, Abbe initiated and organized a lobby mission-training seminar for 100 yeshiva high school students, followed by a lobbying mission to Washington, D.C., where students met with members of Congress. During the summer of 2012, she worked at the Orthodox Union International office putting together educational materials for teenagers about Israel advocacy, history and politics.

“Israel is ours. If we don’t know how to stand up and defend our country, who will?” said Abbe matter-of-factly. “I realized my friends and peers didn’t have enough information. They loved Israel, but they didn’t have the facts necessary to be advocates.” To rectify the problem, Abbe started an Israel advocacy club at her high school to keep students informed about the Middle Eastern conflict.

Abbe’s passion for Israel was ignited in 2011, when she went on GIVE, a summer mission trip to Israel focused heavily on community service. “I saw Israel for the first time through the lens of hesed,” she said. “I had to take what I learned back with me to the States.”

Next year, Abbe will be spending the year studying at a seminary in Jerusalem after which she will attend Yeshiva University’s Stern College on a Full Merit Academic Scholarship. Plans for the future? “Medical school is definitely an option,” she said. And advocacy? “Never a question.” Abbe’s conclusion: “God gave me certain talents for a certain reason. I’ve got to use those talents to better the world.”

Radio talk show host: Abbe hosts her own radio show on the Nachum Segal Network, “Teen Spirit with Rivka Abbe,” on Tuesdays from 7-8 p.m. She interviews a wide variety of Jewish leaders. All her shows are archived online.