This summer, a comment arrived in response to our video “Lowell Students Dance Away the Hate,” a short film featuring an inspiring student response to a visit from the hate group known as the Westboro Baptist Church. “This is so sweet,” the commenter wrote, “I found out about this video after I read the book Miss Fortune Cookie! It incorporated this event in the book and included the link to this video at the end. It's so cheerful and happy. =)” Miss Fortune Cookie is a young adult novel penned by Lauren Bjorkman, an author who attended high school in the San Francisco Bay Area and now lives with her family in Taos, New Mexico. We connected via email about her interest in the video and how she fictionalized it in her book.
Call for compassion after Boston Marathon bombings
"Bloomington, Indiana: United and Ready to Respond to Hate" is part of the Not In Our Town program, Class Actions, that premieres nationwide on PBS stations in February 2012. When a string of anti-Semitic acts rocked the college town of Bloomington, Ind. just before Hanukkah in 2010, the town knew how to respond. Bloomington’s quick and supportive response from the city’s university, police, city, and community leaders comes from experience. The community group Bloomington United was first brought together by the mayor when former Indiana University student and white supremacist Ben Smith started spreading white supremacist and anti-Semitic flyers around town. Several months later, Korean doctoral student Won-Joon Yoon was fatally shot on his way to Bloomington’s Korean Methodist Church, the last killing during Smith’s two-state shooting spree.
Last fall, the Jewish Community High School of the Bay in San Francisco invited us to share stories from the Not In Our Town movement and lead a discussion on acceptance. See how the school's Gay Straight Alliance organized this event as part of their larger mission to ensure all students are supported for who they are. Check out the video, "Students at Jewish High School Talk About Acceptance." Here's a few screenshots from the film. The school's Gay Straight Alliance organized a community block featuring Not In Our Town. Three hundred students attended the event. Not In Our Town Executive Director Jonathan Bernstein screened several films detailing anti-hate actions across the country and lead the discussion on how communities—and schools—can pave the way for positive change.
An Interview with activist Alina Verhofskaya
On Oct. 2, Stanford University’s Jewish community celebrated the first night of Sukkot, the harvest festival that commemorates the Biblical story of the Israelites living in booths in the desert after their exodus from Egypt. As is traditional during the eight-day holiday, Jewish students and faculty at the Palo Alto campus ate dinner inside a sukkah, a three-sided hut built to observe the holiday.