Hi! My name is Maille Biederman. Before I introduce you to my crazy, wonderful life, I would like to thank Hadassah, Young Judaea, and especially Sue Beller, Alecia Sachs, Lena Elkins, and Alex Corona for this award. I am thrilled with the amount of support and love from everyone.
As for who I am, I am a rising senior at the Beacon School in Manhattan. By living in this melting pot and being surrounded by the plethora of cultures, I have become the person I am today. It has allowed me to see things and analyze them from a much broader perspective. I am open-minded: conservative in practice, liberal in thought and attitude.
Next month I will be traveling and experiencing two of the most interesting places in the world, Greece and Israel. I am particularly excited for this adventure because I am invested in both nations. Being a Jew has given me ties to the motherland, the place where we began our incredible journey always striving to be that “light unto the nations” from antiquity. Similar to every nation on earth, Israel is imperfect (as Jews, we support healthy dialogue for the advancement of society and humanity, including our own), but I am constantly in awe of the advancements the nation has made and the obstacles the country has overcome.
When I was young, I stumbled upon Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series. Perhaps a bit of a juvenile read, I loved it nonetheless. I was enticed by Greek mythology, and still am! (More recently, I read Sophocles’ Antigone to feed this passion) Since my introduction to early Greece, I have been collecting ancient Greek coins, a hobby that my dad and I share. With my dad, a fanatic for American coins, and me, the seeker of ancient Greek coins, we are constantly on the hunt for something to put in our pockets. Every year, my father and I attend the New York International Numismatic Convention, held at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. We meet people from all over the world. Ironically, I have never met numismatists from Israel or Greece (I guess I’ll have to change that on my trip!). This convention, practically in my backyard, is another of the many reasons I love New York.
I was born in downtown NYC at Beth Israel Hospital (my cousin, Hannah, is a resident doctor there now). I am an only child, which always gave my parents good reason to spoil me. Though I don’t have a very large family, we more than make up for it through personality (and pets). My dad is a veterinarian. He’s a bit (more like a big, but I don’t want to embarrass him) of a nerd, but if being a vet doesn’t scream selfless, I don’t know what does.. He’s frankly just a 10-year-old boy trapped in a middle-aged man’s body. He loves roller coasters and all things chocolate (but then again, who doesn’t). Honestly, if it weren’t for my mom he would be bouncing off the walls.
My mom is unique, but always means well. And despite having a high tolerance for things (especially hot sauce, she loves hot sauce), she is very thoughtful and puts others before herself. I think I get my love for helping others from her. She’s also really smart. (I don’t know what happened, but I think that my parents’ ‘smart genes’ went ‘poof’ and I only got their good looks. Beggars can’t be choosers, I suppose.) My mom is also a vegetarian. I, too, am a vegetarian, and we both believe vegetarianism is the healthier and more humane option. Between my dad being a veterinarian, and my mom and I being vegetarians, we love animals. We have one dog, Little Man, a human trapped in a 20 pound mutt’s body, and two cats, Alice Alaska, and Nina Simone. Little Man and Nina love everyone, but Alice only likes me. My mom thinks Alice is a bully. Despite my pleas, my parents restrict pet adoptions, so I volunteer at the Wild Bird Fund which is a nonprofit that rehabilitates injured or orphaned wildlife and releases them back into the urban jungle (or just Central Park). I work the reception area and care for two lovely doves who are our “display” doves, some turtles, and register the public and their injured or sick animals they bring to us. (Unfortunately, the doves were released at a wedding and got lost. The birds have no survival instincts having lived in a shed for all their lives.) I also volunteer at my local synagogue, Habonim. I work with second and third graders in the synagogue’s Hebrew School, assisting the teachers. When I am not volunteering, I am either dancing Isadora Duncan, which I have done since the toddler years, or debating with my school’s Model UN team. I am also Founder and President of my school’s Children’s Education Foundation Vietnam Club, an organization providing education, tuition, and life skills for underprivileged girls.
My efforts to help better my community on a local and international scale have allowed me to become a part of my school’s Community Service Leadership Team and Student Leadership Team. On this team, I lead underclassmen to help better my school’s community. Additionally, I recently attended the United States Naval Academy’s Summer Seminar for prospective applicants, a rigorous six-day introduction to life as a midshipman.. I loved my time there, and I was nominated during Blue and Gold for my spirit and team motivation, though I took a fall and fractured my clavicle during sea trials. I am determined that I will one day become a Naval Officer in my continuing pursuit of service and leadership. I will be partaking in Gadna (Israeli army training) during my trip to Israel next month, hoping to get a taste of how Israel protects its nation. Wow, I am so excited – and yes, I am already packed!