The Girls!

Odessa Simone Shlain Goldberg

WriterMill Valley, CAStory & Photos by Lauri LevenfeldMakeup & Hair by Irmina Martinez Loeffler
As one of our ten nominees for TPFG’s Super Girl Contest, it was Odessa Goldberg’s conviction in her words and her self-confidence that made us stop in our tracks and realize the strength, wisdom and potential of this inspiring  teen. Odessa is open, honest and willing to ask questions. She is ready and willing to strike up a conversation on relevant and important conversations that mean something to her and her process. In the opening paragraph of her essay for TPFG, she explains…“If I’m a supergirl, it’s simply because I know of a superpower: the breathtaking power of words. We all use words: it’s how we communicate, how we share, how we coexist in this world, but over these past years I have only began to understand how brilliant, magical and transformative words can be if used correctly.” In this day and age, with social media as one of our largest forms of communication,  we all need to understand a little deeper how powerful our words can be. And how we can manage our words better in the face of others. A valuable lesson to be learned and something our TPFG platform feels very passionate in striving towards for our girls. We are here to create community and empower a platform that is safe where girls come together. Odessa Goldberg is one teen certainly paving the way…
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1.Who is Odessa Goldberg?

A thirteen year old girl, Jewess, Feminist, Writer, Reader, Soccer Player, Fencer, Questioner, Big Sister, Daughter.

 

2. What are your biggest passions? What drives you most?

My biggest passions are words and questions. I love to learn. I adore the feeling of understanding a subject and realizing a concept. I am passionate about words, because I feel they hold this incredible magic unlike anything I’ve experiences, they can transport, transform and translate imagination from one person to another. My family has taught me to love questions, to love questioning. I also have a passion for philosophy, for discussion, for discussing those gigantic, uncomfortable questions. I enjoy challenging concepts and having philosophical arguments.

 

3. Family is a pillar in your life, how does your family impact and support you?

My family has an incredibly profuse influence on me. In every aspect of my life, my family has altered and improved my perception. My parents are always the first ones to read something I’ve written, the

first ones to give me advice, the first ones to encourage me to finesse and perfect it. I take my family’s advice seriously, even though I might not always agree. They taught me to have a strong work ethic, to always go above and beyond what is asked, be grateful and always share when you’re happy. I am extremely grateful for all my family’s support.

 

4. You recently flew to Washington DC for the Women’s March, what has this experience meant to you? Do you intend to do more politically and in support of women’s rights?

Going to Washington DC was an inspiring and memorable experience. It was particularly powerful, because I felt this was the first election that I had actively followed. I remember standing on a curb campaigning for Obama at four or five years old, but this year I read numerous articles, immersing myself in the political culture of this election that intrigued us all. My family and I also phone banked for Hillary. Actually going to DC after the disappointment of the election was so fitting and crucial. It was an awe inspiring experience to say the least. I definitely plan to stay politically active.

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5. How do you empower and inspire your peers? Why is community so important to you?

I hope I inspire and empower my peers by being a strong, determined student. I am focused and strive to excel in school. Community is extremely important to me, because it resembles who I am. I am so lucky to surround myself with a spectacular group of friends that I can work and laugh with. My parents have cocooned our family with layers of mishbucha “family like friends” that I learn from and lean on. My Jewish community, my school community and my family community are all strong and I am grateful for them.

 

6. Who are your role models?

I have many role models, many mentors. My family and extended family are a huge role models for me. As well, many of my teachers are important role models for me. Also: J.K Rowling, Hillary Clinton, Cassandra Clare, Michelle Obama, Joan of Arc, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Oliver, Samantha Bee, Demetri Martin, Nina Simone, Gloria Steinem, Ava DuVernay, Albert Einstein, John Locke, Rene Descartes, Plato, Socrates,  Immanuel Kant, Elizabeth Blackwell, Philippa Foot, Grace Hopper.

7. You are an avid reader and writer…where do you see this path taking you?

I want to keep writing forever, it is my template to process information. I also would like to follow in my grandfather’s footsteps and become a doctor and a writer. I love physiology and understanding how we, humans, work. I never want to fall out of love with words.

 

8. Tell us about your Harry Potter obsession. What character do you identify with most and why?

The Harry Potter series has a huge place in my heart, because it was the first series I fell in love with and it was the catalyst of my love of reading. I count Harry Potter as the beginning of my literary journey. Honestly, I think I’m a Ravenclaw, but I love Hermione. I think I share her exuberance for school and books and she’s also a badass, intelligent female character.

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9. Your family celebrates a technical Shabbat each week and you just celebrated your bat mitzvah, what does it mean to you to be Jewish? And how has Shabbat shaped you as a person?

To me, being Jewish is a huge part of my identity. I love Judaism, because I love the questioning, the studying and the discussion. I love struggling with what being Jewish means today. Our weekly shabbats are the highlight of my week, a time with no homework, no stress,

just books and family. Every Shabbat my family invites interesting, inspiring people over for our special Shabbat dinner. This tradition has definitely shaped into who I am today.

 

10. What’s next for Odessa?

Finishing my novel, entering high school, more writing, more good books and more questions…

 

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