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Beatriz Frenkel, 26
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SOCIAL JUSTICE36 Under 36 2020

Beatriz Frenkel, 26

Justice for Juveniles

What you do:

By day, I am a UX (user design) researcher and designer. I am also passionate about the intersection of human rights and issues of refugees and immigration, and currently volunteer as a Child Advocate at the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, a nonprofit that advocates for the best interests of unaccompanied immigrant children and promotes a dedicated juvenile immigrant justice system.

Unexpected fun fact:

My grandfather owned the first refrigerator in the Brazilian Amazon during the Rubber Boom.

Quote you live by?

“Feet, what do I need them for when I have wings to fly?” — Frida Kahlo

How you got here:

As an immigrant myself, I have always felt connected to those who have been othered by society. I know how privileged I am to have moved to the United States with a support network, but as I started getting involved in activist circles, I realized how unjustly the American immigration system was. I immediately sought out nonprofits that I could leverage my Portuguese/Spanish to help children, who were often separated from their families and were very vulnerable in a foreign country. 

How does your Jewish identity/Jewish values influence the work that you do?

Growing up in a progressive Jewish youth movement in Brazil, I was taught about the pillars, tikkun atzmi and tikkun olam. As a Jew, I should always strive for self-improvement, and while doing this, I should work to repair the world around me. These two concepts mean so much more to me than charity, because they center around making the world better by “l’taken,” or fixing the problems.

Fondest Jewish memory:

I grew up as an integral part of the Rio de Janeiro Jewish community until I was 10; I went to Jewish day school, synagogue and frequented the local JCC. Everyone around me was Jewish, and I assumed that everyone in the world was Jewish. When I changed schools at 11 to study at a secular school, I was the only Jewish student in my grade and my mind was blown. Because the school year starts in March in Brazil, I remember my first Pesach at this new school vividly, as the first time I noticed I was different than others. Bringing my matzah to school in the first few weeks of class while all of my classmates were eating bread made me so much more appreciative of my roots and of how special our traditions are.

Follow me: biafrenkel.com

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