Junior starts March For Our Lives chapter


Dana Richie

Junior Abby Edlein played an active role in a gun violence panel at the Temple. She has brought her passion for gun violence prevention activism to Grady by starting a March For Our Lives chapter.

When junior Abby Edlein checked her phone in first period on Feb. 15, 2018, the first thing she saw was that her camp friend Alyssa Alhadeff died in the Parkland shooting. For Edlein, that traumatic moment changed everything. 

On that same day, Edlein wrote letters and emails to Senator David Perdue, Senator Johnny Isakson and Congressman John Lewis urging them to take action. She later became the co-chair for the Rothschild Social Justice Institute’s Youth Gun Violence Prevention chapter at her temple, which she has used as a platform to fight for gun reform. Edlein is now bringing her passion and drive for change to the Grady community by starting a March For Our Lives (MFOL) chapter at Grady. 

“My whole life, I’ve always been taught that if there is an injustice, I shouldn’t just wait for someone else to do the work,” Edlein said. “You have to get in there and get your hands dirty and do it yourself. I hadn’t yet found that thing that I wanted to be passionate about, but once someone I know and was close to me died, I knew I had to do something.”

Edlein hopes that the MFOL chapter will serve as a diverse environment that fosters students’ passion for change by educating them about gun legislation and organizing events to ensure that students’ voices are heard.  

“There are so many different facets to this conversation that are not talked about enough that I plan to address and hopefully make a change,” Edlein said. 

Part of what inspired Edlein to start the MFOL chapter at Grady was her participation in the MFOL National Youth Summit over the summer, where she met like-minded people from diverse backgrounds who were looking to get more involved in the fight for gun reform. 

“[The MFOL National Youth Summit] was amazing because this is an issue unlike a lot of other issues in that it affects everybody no matter what,” Edlein said. “So many people have to get involved. It gave me an outlet for that anger and a way to channel it into something positive and organize really effectively.” 

Prior to this summer, Edlein was already getting involved with gun violence prevention activism. After the Parkland shooting, Edlein reached out to her temple asking what they were going to do about gun violence. A lot of kids who worship at the Temple also went to the same summer camp as Alhadeff, so it was an issue very close to the congregation’s heart.

“When the news struck that Alyssa Alhadeff had been killed in the shooting, our temple began reaching out right away,” said Lucy Adelman, co-chair of the Rothschild Social Justice Institute’s Youth Gun Violence Prevention Chapter. “They offered counseling for teens and started speaking up more visibly than ever before.”

The Temple immediately established the Gun Violence Prevention chapter of the Rothschild Social Justice Institute. The chapter held a panel on gun violence on Aug. 14 that featured esteemed guests like Congresswoman Lucy McBath. Edlein has found a home at the intersection between the Jewish faith and gun reform activism. 

“The very prominent Jewish value is ‘Tikkun Olam,’ which is to repair the world,” Edlein said. “That is something I’ve been taught since I was very little and I guess, without even realizing it, I saw the world around me and I thought that this needs to change. I was very unsatisfied with the people in charge of making the change, so I started to get mad and say things.”

This passion didn’t come out of the blue. Peter Berg, Rabbi of The Temple, has known Edlein for over 13 years and has always noticed how caring and dedicated she is. 

She is an outstanding student and thinker,” Berg said. “But mostly, she believes in her heart that every single person can use her or his hands to make the world a better place. Abby believes that we shouldn’t just look at the world that is, rather we should look at the world the way that it can and should be.”