By COLlive reporter
Photos: Sholem Srugo/COLlive
Standing up for what is right…
A march that was comprised of nearly 100 students from public high schools in Brooklyn chanted “Love, Not Hate” in Crown Heights on Thursday.
The march was organized by Michael Prayor, superintendent of Brooklyn South Public High Schools, who oversees the education of 33,000 students and Devorah Halberstam, community activist and co-founder of the Jewish Children’s Museum.
Prayor said he organized the march and encouraged the youngsters to join because they are part of the solution to the ongoing anti-Semitic attacks.
“We have some of the best and brightest kids here in Brooklyn,” Prayor told COLlive.com. “We really wanted their voices to be heard, we want them to be at the table and be part of the solution,” he said.
The teens, of many different races and ethnicities, marched up Eastern Parkway from Franklin Avenue to Kingston Avenue, the heart of the Chassidic Jewish community.
Asked if he felt that the march would help with creating change in the current social climate, Prayor said, “Absolutely. The students felt empowered.”
He said, “The point is we want them to be exposed to different cultures, to people of all faiths. It’s important for them to grow and understand because ultimately they are going to be the future change agents – they’re going to be the ones to speak out against anti-Semitism and other violence.
“When they leave here, they go to their various circles, and if they leave here inspired they can spread that to their family and friends and talk about their experience and enlighten others. You only need one, you never know who can reach 10 thousand others,” he said.
The group was hosted by Halberstam and the team of educators at the Jewish Children’s Museum, the Brooklyn landmark which teaches about the culture and heritage of the Jewish people to visitors of all faiths and backgrounds.
The students sat down for a pizza lunch, and then toured the museum, enjoying the hands-on exhibits.
Deputy Inspector Tito Romero, the new commanding officer of the NYPD 71st Precinct, addressed the students, telling them that we may all be different – “that’s what makes us great,” but we have to remember that we all have a lot in common once we get to know each other.” He reminded the teens that empathy is relating to others, and that “words hurt, actions hurt.”
“I hope that today’s event will start a movement of love, not hate,” Halberstam told COLlive.com. “The students came from all over Brooklyn – some from other Chasidic neighborhoods such as Boro Park and Flatbush, and they had questions about the people they see every day.”
The teens then had a chance to ask questions of Halberstam and Rabbi Mendel Krasnianski, a young teacher. Questions ranged from why Chasidic Jews dress the way they do, to Jewish fast days, and other elements of the Jewish faith.
“The kids received pamphlets about hate symbols provided by the ADL, and they left more informed and educated about their neighbors,” Halberstam said. “I truly hope the Department of Education and the mayor will partner with us to continue to make events at the Jewish Children’s Museum because they are learning about the people they live with and see every day.”
Mr. Hyman, a teacher at Samuel J. Tilden High School in Brooklyn, accompanied a group of students from his school. Hyman works with My Brothers Keeper, an organization that works to bridge the culture gap and bring an understanding of cultures.
“Given the current climate we have now in our society, if we can make a way for our young men to understand the climate, understand each other’s cultures, it allows us to create bonds,” Hyman told COLlive.com. “When you don’t know about each other, we can be a little xenophobic, but when you know about each other, we can see each other differently.”
Jahad Vann, a 15-year-old 10th-grade student at Tilden Educational Academy said he joined the march and the visit to the Jewish Children’s Museum because he wants to learn about many faiths and cultures.
“I want to learn about other faiths, so I can have a better understanding of other people,” he said. “I don’t want anyone to feel threatened by something that I say, so I want to learn more about them so that I can relate to them better.”
The visit was funded by the Hate Crimes Initiative of the NY City Council and the Jewish Caucus led by CM Chaim Deutsch.
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LOVE, NOT HATE: A group of nearly 100 students from public high schools in Brooklyn marched down Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights Thursday to make a statement to the world. "Not Hate, Love…We won't tolerate hate," they chanted in unison. The march was organized by Michael Prayor, superintendent of Brooklyn South Public High Schools, who oversees the education of 33,00 students, because he wanted their voices to be heard, and for them to be at the table and be part of the solution. “It's important for them to grow and understand, because ultimately they are going to be the future change agents – they're going to be the ones to speak out against anti-Semitism and other violence," he said. — SWIPE UP in our Stories to read more about the March!