It’s safe to say that I’m obsessed with Hillary Clinton. Over the past 18 months, she’s literally taken over my life. Hillary appears in my essays for English, works her way into my papers for U.S. history, and even sneaks into my drawings in art class. Because of my passion (and some might say obsession) for Hillary, I started a website last April called Teens4Hillary.com, where I write and publish other teens’ posts about Hillary and collect news stories from dozens of sources related to the election.
I was even obsessed with Hillary as a little kid—there’s a picture of me holding a handmade Hillary sign on Super Tuesday in 2008 that’s framed in my house. Although I admittedly didn’t know a lot about politics at the age of 8, somehow I already knew that I loved Hillary. Currently, I spend a lot of my time keeping up with election news and reading about all of Hillary’s accomplishments. I especially love reading about her as a young lawyer and politician.
Why am I so inspired by Hillary? Perhaps because I see my own values reflected in her. Specifically, I see so many of my Jewish values—especially tikkun olam—in Hillary and her life’s work.
Tikkun olam is a Hebrew phrase meaning “repair the world,” and is a key concept in Jewish tradition. I attended a progressive Reform Jewish day school, The Rashi School, for nine years, where tikkun olam was an integral part of my Jewish education. Whether it was donating to charity, doing volunteer work, creating my own social-justice projects or simply being kind to others, I was strongly encouraged every day to do my part in making the world a better place.
Hillary is a Methodist, but her clear desire to do tikkun olam has shone through every single choice in her life. There’s one story about her that I’m particularly moved by—the fact that after graduating from Yale Law School, she could have taken a high-paying job at a fancy law firm. Instead, she went to work for the Children’s Defense Fund, spending the next several years going door to door and fighting for legislation to help children with disabilities. She continued that work after marrying Bill, when she co-founded Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, one of the state’s first child-advocacy groups.
The rest of Hillary’s career is marked by tikkun olam as well. As first lady, she led the fight to provide all Americans with affordable health care. She worked with Republicans and Democrats to create the successful Children’s Health Insurance Program, which helped millions of kids get access to health insurance. She led the U.S. delegation at the U.N. World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995, famously stating: “If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights once and for all. Let us not forget that among those rights are the right to speak freely—and the right to be heard.”
While Hillary is one of the politicians who best embodies the Jewish value of tikkun olam, I believe that it’s something that goes hand in hand with politics (or at least the ideal of politics). The urge to better society and improve life for all people is such an important part of Judaism, and is what politics should be all about. This is probably why I’m drawn to Hillary so much—she embodies the best of my Jewish values and my hopes for this country.
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