Stop the Hate

For the last 13 years, the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage has hosted ‘Stop the Hate Youth Speak Out & Youth Sing Out Contest,’ which has its roots in the respect for all humanity – a strong Jewish value.

The competition is open to middle and high school students who have to write essays or compose songs that “speak out against bias and bigotry.”

This year there were 1,500+ essays.  Bowen Zhang was selected as one of the 20 finalists (in the 11th and 12th grade category).  Her essay was about her sister Khloe who was born prematurely. This caused developmental issues with her ears and she has to wear a hearing aid.  Bowen too was initially upset on meeting her baby sister in the NICU.   “I was excited to see her, but I also had a lingering thought in my head. Why couldn’t I have a sister who was normal?” she recalls.

Now she tries to get others to see the unnecessary hatred coming from discrimination of what is different.  It’s about ignorance which, Bowen points out “allows hate free rein, to denounce others for their appearance, race, or religion that reveal nothing about who they are. It allows hate to seep into our blood, to run through our veins until it blinds us with preconceived notions. Ignorance allows people to treat another human being like a worthless other.”

Bowen has spent a lot of time working toward helping those who are having a hard time like when she started creating cards for kids in hospital and their families at Ronald McDonald House, volunteering at the Cleveland Clinic and Rainbow Hospitals with graphic designs for fundraising events, selling her designs and donating the profits to various organizations such as the AAPI, the Graham’s Foundation, etc. and the development of her very own (small) art business

Competition winner will receive a  $20,000 college scholarship and the high school where they study will receive a $50,000 anti-bias education grant to support future programming.

Shiva Baby

Discussion on a new movie written and directed by Emma Seligman has been heating up.  It could have been a great movie to show in March, coinciding with Women’s History Month.’ One of the main characters – Kim – is the family’s breadwinner and the other women depicted in the movie come out as unashamedly strong and confident characters, true role models for females today.

The main character in the movie – Danielle – has to attend a shiva.  Under normal circumstances these events can be awkward, but in this instance she has to confront a whole slew of people who give the word “uncomfortable” a run for its money.  Her sugar daddy, his wife (and child), and an ex-girlfriend.  Of course then there is the classic pushy middle-aged Brooklyn Jew who have all sorts of advice for her.

26-year-old Seligman has made quite an achievement with the movie.  Especially vis-à-vis strong feminine roles. Perhaps it is thus not surprising that the writer-director has a ton of prospects coming her way from a whole range of film sectors.

In Recognition of Special Needs

Israel has always recognized its society’s special needs and continuously creates endeavors to respond and aid this demographic. In this article we take a look at two recent events: Good Deeds Day and Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance and Inclusion Month (#JDAIM). Both of these involved work by the ADI, the country’s key provider of care for severely disabled individuals.

The first was when ADI worked with EL AL to create a wheelchair pilot seat in its Boeing 737 plane.  This was done as a mark of recognition for Good Deeds Day in an attempt to give four wheelchair-bound Israelis the opportunity to experience plane piloting as per advanced simulator. Eran Lichter (an EL AL Captain) guided the individuals, each for 60 minutes. Once the flight had ended they all received a course completion certificate from Lior Tanner (CEO of Frequent Flyer Club and EL AL Fly Card). At the ceremonial event were both ADI Negev-Nahalat Eran chairman and founder Doron Almog and ADI Jerusalem director, Shlomit Grayevsky.

In recognition of JDAIM, the ADI created ‘ADI’s Make the Change Challenge.’ This competition was open for US and Canadian 4th to 12th grade students to design something showcasing how the world at large is severely lacking in accessibility to the community of individuals with disabilities.  The idea behind the competition is to create awareness especially among the younger demographic to really become aware of the ‘other.’

ADI’s US and Canada Director of Development, Eli Klein explained:

“For years, ADI’s culture of kindness, compassion and empathy has paved the way for disability inclusion in Israel, and our ADI Bechinuch programming allows us to take our advocacy to the next level by making a difference for individuals with disabilities around the globe. While this new STEM contest could potentially inspire the creation of the next great accessible design solution, our true objective is to encourage the next generation of Jewish leaders to be thoughtful, sympathetic and see the world through the eyes of others, because we can’t promote real societal change towards individuals with disabilities without first acknowledging our shared humanity.”