Names: Stephanie Weiss and Harris Scher
ADL Roles: Co-Chairs, ADL New York Region’s Next Generation Philanthropy Executive Board
How did you get involved in ADL?
Stephanie: The first time I heard about ADL, I was around 10 years old. I was with my family on summer vacation. When we were checking into the hotel, a place we had stayed many times, the receptionist greeted us by the wrong last name and instead chose to address us by a stereotypical Jewish last name. The conversation escalated, and the receptionist continued to make derogatory comments about Jewish people. We promptly left and never returned. In the car as we drove away from the hotel, my parents told my sister and me that they were going to report the incident to the ADL. They wanted us to know that you can’t just walk away from these situations; you have to try to change peoples’ perceptions. When I graduated from college and moved to New York, I wanted to get involved in an organization where I could be a part of that change.
Harris: My first introduction to the ADL was at the Imagine Gala in 2009, as a guest. While there I remember asking those that were already involved with the ADL a lot of questions. I was immediately interested in learning more and eager to get involved. Within a few months I applied to the Glass Leadership Institute and shortly thereafter accepted a position on the Next Generation Philanthropy Board (NGP). Now, as Co-Chair of the NGP, I am still constantly learning and focused on getting more people involved and aware of how important the work is that the ADL is doing.
What does ADL mean to you?
Stephanie: The mission of ADL it just as important today in 2015 as it was in 1913, when the organization was founded. I feel very fortunate to have experienced very little anti-Semitism throughout my life, but I know that is only because organizations like ADL exist. ADL’s mission to ‘secure justice and fair treatment to all’ is why I support ADL. It is not enough to protect one group of people. The onus is on each of us to stand up for equal treatment and tolerance for all groups who are being mistreated.
Harris: The ADL is an institution with a proven history of providing education, awareness and a steady voice to help prevent and stop all kinds of hate. While it starts and ends with anti-Semitism, the ADL stands up for all of those that are discriminated against, with the hope that one day the requirement of having an organization like this will not be as critical as it is today. Most people when they think of ADL refer to the press releases and op-eds, but there is even more that is done behind the scenes that’s equally as impressive, like research and outreach.
As leaders in the ADL community, how would you advise others to have a local impact in the fight against hate?
Stephanie: ADL works every day with government and law enforcement officials, students, teachers, parents, clergy and more to fight bullying and bias all over New York. As New Yorkers, we are beneficiaries of this important work, as we live and thrive in a more tolerant community. Help spread the word about ADL’s mission. Encourage your local school to be a No Place for Hate school. Join the Next Generation Philanthropy Community at our next A Day of Difference program or attend the Imagine Gala. Together we can inspire more people to give to ADL to ensure the important work to create ‘A World without Hate’ continues.
Harris: I truly believe that every individual has the ability to make a difference in the fight against hate, regardless of the size or impact. The ADL has devoted countless resources and has created many types of programs to make it easy to get educated and involved, regardless of the type of commitment you’re looking to make. With anti-Semitism on the rise, we can’t afford to sit back and let history repeat itself. When we see, hear or read about anything that resembles any type of hate or discrimination, we must raise our hands, ask questions and expose what we think is wrong.