Jewish people may make up about one percent of Washington state's population, but numbers mean little when we see just how many are busy making the world a better place. From using coding skills to aid in crises to advocating for environmental justice, Lights in the World is a new series by the WSJHS which shines a spotlight on those who are creating positive, lasting, and unforgettable ripple effects throughout our shared planet.
This is a living series, meaning that more people and groups will be continuously added to this page over time. If you have any recommendations on someone we should interview, please contact us.
Avi Schiffmann grew up on Mercer Island, which sits between Seattle and Bellevue in Washington state. Also the location of the WSJHS office, Avi was home during summer break in 2022 and agreed to talk with us about his work in building accessible websites to help people around the world. Feeling that government websites were unnecessarily complex and difficult to understand, particularly when it comes to worldwide crises, Avi took matters into his own hands and built websites to help present information and offer solutions in a straightforward way.
In 2020, at age 17, Avi won the Webby Award for Person of the Year. Presented to him by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the acceptance speech had to be only five words, and Avi chose "You Can Learn Anything Online" to represent how he taught himself to code purely by using resources on the Internet.
Visit Avi's websites:
- Avi created this coronavirus tracking website in January of 2020 before COVID-19 was truly considered to be a huge problem, much less a pandemic of unprecedented proportions.
- Avi made this website when he was 17 to combat misinformation during the 2020 election and present both sides of voting issues "in an unbiased and user-friendly way to anyone from Gen Z to senior citizens."
- Ukraine Take Shelter
- This website's purpose is to provide Ukrainian refugees a safe place to easily find a host home during wartime as Russia continues to attack Ukraine.
[This spotlight interview was conducted on July 25, 2022.]
Jamie Margolin is a Colombian- and Jewish-American artist and activist. Raised in Seattle, she stepped into the climate justice arena at just 14 years old. She co-founded the climate action nonprofit Zero Hour, which led the first-ever Youth Climate March in Washington, D.C. and other cities in 2018. In June of 2020, she published a book called Youth to Power: Your Voice and How to Use It with a foreword by fellow climate justice activist Greta Thunberg. She has testified before our local legislators, the U.S. Congress, and so much more.
Jamie describes herself as an artist first and foremost and is studying film at NYU. She is currently in the process of creating an animation called Pelea (“Fight” in Spanish), which highlights those on the front lines of the climate crisis along with including LGBTQIA+ stories, which she wants to see more of in film.
- Keep up with Jamie on Twitter, and stay up to date with the production of Pelea here!
- Purchase Jamie’s book here, at your local bookstore, or borrow it from your local library.
Here are some of Jamie’s recommendations for anyone interested in learning more about climate action:
- Helena of Sarayaku, directed by Eriberto Gualinga
- Awake, A Dream at Standing Rock, directed by Myron Dewey, Josh Fox, and James Spione
- Netflix’s Arcane series
[This interview was conducted virtually on September 30, 2022.]