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ADL Youth Leadership Mission Gives Students Tools to Confront Bigotry, Hate and Bias at Home

  • November 24, 2015

A diverse group of students from New York embarked on a significant experience to apply lessons learned from the Holocaust to their own lives and lead the fight against bigotry and hate in their respective communities at ADL’s 18th annual Grosfeld Family National Youth Leadership Mission.

The mission, which took place from Sunday, November 15 to Wednesday, November 18 in Washington, D.C., involved 9 student leaders from various neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs, Long Island and Westchester, as well as 132 other students from across the country. The students were selected for their extraordinary leadership qualities and demonstration of interest in issues of diversity.

“Creating this experience for students is a critical part of our mission to foster student leadership and inclusive schools and communities. By bringing so many students together, we show them they have partners across the country and have the ability to make a real difference,” said ADL New York Regional Director Evan Bernstein.

The centerpiece of the annual mission focuses on a significant amount of time at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, where students learn about the persecution of Jews and other minorities during World War II, and examine contemporary issues of extremism, bigotry and genocide. The students also engage in in-depth discussions about lessons that can be applicable in their individual lives and how they can play a part in fighting prejudice.

During breakout sessions conducted by ADL’s A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute facilitators, students share their personal experiences with bullying, hatred and discrimination, and discuss how the lessons of the Holocaust can be applied today.

One 2015 mission delegate said, “The mission was a safe place for me to be myself; it boosted my self-confidence. Now I’m ready to make a change.”

Notable presenters at this year’s mission included:

  • Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO
  • Nesse Godin, a survivor of a Lithuanian ghetto, the Stuffhof concentration camp, four labor camps, and a death march.
  • Marione Ingram, a Holocaust survivor, civil rights activist and author

The students attended ADL’s 20th annual “In Concert Against Hate” on November 16 at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., where heroes in the fight against hate and intolerance were honored. The student delegates heard from the heroes that stood up against or were the victims of hate crimes.

Founded in 1996 by ADL’s Greater Chicago/Upper Midwest Regional Office, the Youth Leadership Mission became a national program in 1998, building on the success of previous programs in preparing students as role models against bigotry, prejudice and hate. It is generously sponsored by The Grosfeld Family Foundation.