When it comes to diversity, America still prefers bright lines. Black. White. Asian. Christian. Muslim. Jewish. But what if your background looks like a venn diagram? Bethany serota JD ’08 knows that challenge firsthand. Her mother is biracial, her father is white, and both are Jewish. As a young adult strug gling with her identity, she remembers finding solace in Rebecca Walker’s autobiography, Black, White, and Jewish. "That was a home run for me," she says. "What i went through wasn’t abnormal."
Turning to books is something serota learned from her mother. When serota was a child, her mother was pursuing an undergraduate criminal law degree (an ambition that eventually yielded to family obligations). "I wanted to be just like my mom and write lots and lots of words on paper and read books all night," serota says.
She became the first person in her family to receive a college degree, majoring in media management at Temple University in Philadelphia. even so, the idea of becoming a lawyer seemed unattainable. "I associated being a lawyer with people who were elite," she says. "I thought it was an unattainable goal."
So serota took a position with a national broadcast agency, selling politi¬cal advertising spots to the Bush and Kerry campaigns. The job, however, left her pining for intellectual stimulation. A friend encouraged her to apply to law school. The more she thought about it—about the empower¬ment, the freedom, the knowledge law offered—the better it sounded. "i saw endless possibilities in studying the law," she says.
At suffolk Law, serota dove in to her classes, enriching her academ¬ics with internships that helped her discover an interest in transactional work. she also chose electives with an international bent, taking courses in human rights and Chinese law and writing about the israeli supreme Court. she traveled, too, studying law in nice, France, and visiting israel several times.
The latter experiences proved transformative. "In israel, I felt comfort¬able with everything i was: black, Jewish, and educated," she says. she felt the country’s energy; saw its need for a young, educated workforce; felt affinity for the legal system; and began to think seriously about living there. After mulling it over for a year, she moved to israel after graduating law school and taking the Massachusetts bar exam.
serota now lives in Tel Aviv. she freelances as a legal researcher and spends 25 hours a week studying Hebrew. "i feel creative and at home and laid back here," she says. Her dream is to work in international trade and split her time between the U.s. and israel. Meantime, one of her greatest pleasures is ending the work week israeli-style: carrying fresh groceries from the market through Tel Aviv’s lively streets and enjoying a sabbath meal on her balcony with friends.
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