Elana Rosenthal, 22


Elana Rosenthal, 22, a woman of kaleidoscopic interests, has helped clean rivers in Costa Rica; volunteered in medical facilities in Ecuador and Alaska; completed a triathlon and three-mile swim for charity across the Tappan Zee waters; all while designing a health clinic, with a Dow Sustainability Grant, in a remote corner of Haiti. Rosenthal has a gentle elegance — with a tiger in her tank. When the anti-Israel BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement came to the University of Michigan (where she recently graduated with honors, majoring in neuroscience and psychology), Rosenthal was on the front lines rallying opposition to BDS, raising Jewish consciousness across campus.

Rosenthal lives in Riverdale, where her family has been active and honored by the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale and Chabad, and where Rosenthal graduated from SAR yeshiva. At Michigan, Rosenthal was a leader in Jewish campus groups and studied weekly with rabbis at Hillel, Chabad, and the Jewish Resource Center.

Rosenthal, an Emergency Medical Technician and a Wilderness First Aid Responder, has volunteered throughout high school and college with Yachad and Best Buddies, (organizations for young people with disabilities). “I’ve had a really lovely ‘best buddy’ for all four years in Michigan,” said Rosenthal. This summer Rosenthal will be at Camp Simcha, working with children fighting cancer, hoping to “help these kids have the best summer of their lives.”

“The more I learn about biology, the more there is to appreciate” about God’s creation.

Rosenthal was a research assistant at a Fordham University laboratory examining Familial Dysautonomia, a neurological disease predominantly affecting Jews. At Michigan, her research into triple negative breast cancer resulted in her being a principal author of a paper in a peer-reviewed medical journal. For Rosenthal, her interests in medical research and religion are seamless. “The more I learn about biology, the more there is to appreciate” about God’s creation. To Rosenthal, success means serving others, living up to the teaching, “breathe in the light, blow out the darkness.”

Southern style: Rosenthal recently went down to Texas to watch a Houston rodeo and do the two-step in the country dance halls of Austin.