My first year of high school, I participated in the Witness Theater Program through Yachad at
the Minneapolis Jewish Community Center. Every Sunday for two months, five other teens and I
listened to six survivors share their Holocaust experiences. The other half of the program was
then forming their six stories into a play. Sharing these stories with the Minneapolis community
was one of the largest responsibilities I’ve ever taken on. Living their stories albeit through a
play opened my eyes to the evil of hatred and ignorance, and gave me a new appreciation for
humanity, empathy, and safety.
One quote from survivor Judy Meisel really stuck with me — “hatred is learned at the dinner
table.” People are not born with hate, they learn to hate. One tangible way to engage and combat
learned bias is to offer lessons of tolerance and acceptance.
The other day I met an exchange student from the Czech Republic who told me I was maybe the
third Jewish person he’d ever met. While that initially surprised me, Jewish people make up only
0.2% of the world population. I came to the scary realization that there are people in the world
who have no context about Judaism and Jewish history. I believe lack of education and ignorance
are the main reasons for the recent rise in antisemitism and the IHRE is here to provide the truth
and to work toward understanding and the Jewish value of Tikkun Olam—repairing the world.
Hate crimes in El Paso, Charleston, Orlando, Pittsburgh, Paris, New Zealand, Germany, and on
campuses across the country remind me that antisemitism, racism, discrimination, and bigotry
are still rampant within our society. I joined the IHRE to continue my commitment to rise up
against hate and use my voice to strengthen tolerance and inclusion L’dor V’dor—from
generation to generation.