|NIOT co-director and filmmaker Patrice O'Neill talks on a panel following a screening of 'Repairing the World' in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois, on April 17, 2023.
On Monday, April 17, 2023, community members, students, city and law enforcement leaders came together to screen NIOT’s new film Repairing the World: Stories From the Tree of Life, and discuss how to continue to build inclusive and loving environments that make hate less likely.
Held on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, NIOT Bloomington leader, Rabbi Rebecca Dubowe of Temple Montefiore welcomed nearly 200 people to the historic Normal Theatre for the screening. In her opening remarks, Rabbi Dubowe reminded the crowd that if there were a moment of silence for each of the six million Jews who were killed in the Holocaust in Europe, we would be silent for 11 years.
For years, NIOT-Bloomington-Normal has held marches, vigils, public forums, student-led school programs and interfaith activities to respond to national and local incidents of hate and bias. (Some of that history can be seen on their website created by steering committee member Martin Ross and the group's very active Facebook page with over 3,800 users.)
After Rabi Dubowe's opening remarks, we hear from students in Bloomington-Normal schools involved in the Not In Our School Club. They shared their voices of hope and determination in the face of growing bigotry and tension.
NAACP leader Linda Foster and Willie Halbert, an early leader of the NIOT group in Bloomington, joined 20 local leaders for a meeting before the event to discuss how Bloomington-Normal can work with Not In Our Town to pilot a new program that can help communities improve hate and bias reporting.
During a Q&A after the film, local high school activists expressed deep concern over school shootings nationwide and racist incidents at local schools, and urged the community to keep eyes and ears open about hate in local schools and the community.
Many thanks to the amazing leaders in Bloomington-Normal for the inspiring evening! Especially to the NIOT steering committee for leading and hosting the event including Mike Matejka, Camille Taylor, Rabbi Dubowe, Mary Aplington, Bloomington City Council Member Mollie Ward, and Normal Human Rights Commission Chair Janessa Williams.
Additional sponsors of the Repairing the World Screening included: Moses Montefiore Temple, NAACP Bloomington-Normal Branch, Moms Demand Action on Gun Violence, Prairie Pride Coalition, Bloomington & Normal Trades & Labor Assembly (AFL-CIO), YWCA of McLean County, WGLT-FM (NPR affiliate), the Pantagraph, and the Bloomington, Normal and Illinois State University Police Departments.
The historic Normal Theatre marquee featuring 'Repairing the World' screening.