Monday, November 20, 2006

OC Jewish Life lives in a parallel universe

Hat tip: Ted Bleiweis

Nothing like inaccuracy from your local Jewish newspaper. The ADL helped "resolve the Jewish/Muslim conflict on the UCI campus?" What wormhole to a parallel universe have I missed?

This little tidbit is even better:

"When you say, ‘Who ya gonna call?’, you can call ADL on a daily basis, and ADL responds proactively. It’s a level-headed organization that has developed a significant presence."

My personal experience was when you call the ADL, the ADL says "sorry, can't help you" - and anybody in their organization who tries to help you is threatened with losing their job, or worse.

The ADL is a big waste of time, money, and space as far as I'm concerned. That opinion won't change until I see them take some real concrete steps at UCI.

Ted Bleiweis has published a nice response here

Link to article

Combating Discrimination
ADL is on the forefront of civil rights issues.
By Ilene Schneider and Lisa Grajewski

Anti-Defamation League's (ADL) Orange County/ Long Beach Regional Office celebrates its 25th anniversary of combating discrimination -- including bigotry, racism, and hate crimes -- at a gala at Temple Bat Yahm on November 4.

Interestingly, according to Melissa Carr, interim regional director* and now special projects director, "Ours is just one of 30 ADL regional offices, and a modest one at that, but we’ve been the flashpoint for civil rights issues nationwide. We’ve been on the forefront of confronting such issues as anti-immigration, anti-Zionist/anti-Israel issues on college campuses, and Holocaust denial, because they’re happening here."

The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913, "to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all." Now the nation's premier civil rights/human relations agency, fighting anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, ADL defends democratic ideals and protects civil rights for all. A leader in the development of materials, programs and services, ADL builds bridges of communication, understanding and respect among diverse groups carrying out its mission through a network of 30 regional and satellite offices in the United States and abroad.

"There’s a connection between anti-Semitism and other hate crimes," explained Joyce Greenspan, who was the executive director of the ADL Orange County/Long Beach office for 12 years before retiring this summer and who is being honored at the gala. "It’s the canary in the coal mine. Behind anti-Semitism there are other kinds of hate. It’s a red flag for understanding the broader picture."

Today’s anti-Semitism is different from that of the 1930s, according to Greenspan, because the Jewish community is more powerful, there is a state of Israel, and the speed of communications has increased. Some people found ADL because of its mission and got active in other Jewish causes, while other people - including non-Jews - got interested in ADL because it defends the Constitution and the rights of individuals, Greenspan said.

ADL creates relationships, according to Cecelia Goodman, the other honoree at the gala and a strong supporter of the organization for its whole tenure in this area. "As a child of survivors, I find hate and intolerance unacceptable," she said.

"When you say, ‘Who ya gonna call?’, you can call ADL on a daily basis, and ADL responds proactively. It’s a level-headed organization that has developed a significant presence."

When Greenspan started, ADL was small and consisted of mostly older volunteers. Thanks to leadership training programs, people of all ages became interested in volunteering, and 600 people per year take the training programs in Washington.

Increases in volunteers, funding, staff size, and strategic planning programs gave people the idea that ADL was a civil rights and human relations force, not just a little office responding to hate crimes, she said.

Today, according to Goodman, "ADL is the best organization for our times to fight bigotry and intolerance locally, nationally, and internationally."

ADL Highlights
1981- ADL Model Hate Crime Legislation
1983- "National Anti-Defamation League Day" declared by President Ronald Reagan
1985- A World of Difference Institute established to fight against prejudice and promote diversity
1987- Shaare Tefila Congregation v. Cobb hate crime Supreme Court case: Supreme Court ruling that Jews are under the protection of the hate crime statute
1994- ADL's Orange County/Long Beach chapter interviews Holocaust Survivors at Chapman College
1996- ADL develops the Rebuild the Churches Fund
1999- ADL helps the refugees of Kosovo
1999- HateFilter for the Internet created by ADL
2000- ADL book, Hate Hurts: How Children Learn and Unlearn Prejudice
2002- Conference on Global Anti-Semitism
2005- ADL helps to resolve the Jewish/Muslim conflict on the UCI campus

They also had a sidebar:
Under an Orange County Sky

Early in 2006 Joyce Greenspan, then regional director of the ADL, found out about an interfaith program that the National New York office had under taken. Designed around Mark Podwal’s book, Jerusalem Sky: Stars, Crosses & Crescents, the program allows children of different faiths to learn about each other’s religions, opening the door for tolerance and understanding. Knowing where to go in Orange County, Greenspan approached Dina Eletreby, headmaster at Irvine’s New Horizon Elementary School, an Islamic Day School, and presented the program to her.

Greenspan then reached out to Eve Fein, head master at Morasha Jewish Day School. Together Fein and Greenspan approached St. John’s Episcopal School in Rancho Santa Margarita. All have entered into a semester-long interfaith study of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity under the coordination of the regional ADL office.

The students will meet at each school on three separate occasions. Under the guidance of the religious coordinators of each institution, they will study the religions and customs of each other. The goal of this program is to facilitate a meaningful cultural exchange allowing the children to discover and celebrate their similarities and learn ways to resist and eliminate bias and prejudice. It also opens the minds and hearts of children, which is key to building a future free of bigotry and hatred.

Fein explained that, "Morasha has always been a progressive school. Since the school’s inception 20 years ago, we have stayed true to our mission of educating children in the traditions and heritage of Judaism while at the same time instilling an understanding of diversity and tolerance. This project will give our students the opportunity to experience that diversity first hand." The program also hopes to provide that education to New Horizon and St. John’s, breaking down any barriers or misconceptions. Through art, essays, poetry, and other projects, the students will express their perceptions of the book that inspired the program and convey what it means to literally live side by side, under one sky.

As the children of different faiths gather together, one can only hope that as the author states, "Even so, people from everywhere everyday gather in the city - a city said to have been mapped on God’s palms long before our world began - and with prayers for peace and miracles, all addressed to one God, hope lights the Jerusalem sky. " Let us hope that these children can light our Orange County sky.

The student projects will be exhibited in the halls of the Rancho Santa Margarita Bell Tower Community Center starting November 27, providing a culmination of the three-month project. The entire community is invited to share in this celebration of understanding from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. In addition to the display of student work, there will be a brief presentation by each school, a book reading, and a student team building activity.

Podwal, M. (Jerusalem Sky: Stars, Crosses and Crescents), Doubleday Book for Young Readers.

More information is available at

* Rick Shapiro became the director of the regional ADL office. Look for a story on him in the December issue of Orange County Jewish Life.

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