ADL’s Confronting Anti-Semitism Teen Trainers and Coordinator Named among Connecticut’s Top Jewish leaders
Date: January 2, 2013
All 14 Teen Trainers in the Connecticut Anti-Defamation League’s Confronting Anti-Semitism (CAS) program, along with CAS Coordinator Cantor Sharon Citrin, were honored among the top Movers and Shakers of 2012, an annual honor bestowed by the Connecticut Jewish Ledger that highlights top Jewish leaders from across the state. This is the second year in a row that ADL has received this recognition.
“These are truly special kids doing very important work very well,” said Gary Jones, ADL’s Connecticut Regional Director. “Sharon, too, has been on the front lines battling anti-Semitism in Connecticut for more than a decade, constantly innovating creative and engaging ways to help teens stand up to bigotry. Many of the important goals of our education programs that address bias and discrimination, including our CAS program, are unique to ADL and would not be accomplished in Connecticut if there were no ADL presence here.”
The Teen Trainers range from 12 to 18 years old and attend public and private schools throughout Connecticut.
Initiated in Boston in the late 1980s, the CAS program was developed in response to a survey of Jewish youth in the New England area. The survey results showed that middle and high school students in a wide range of communities had experienced anti-Semitic taunts, epithets and graffiti in their classrooms, in school hallways, on the playground and in their neighborhoods. A generous grant from the HRH Foundation then allowed ADL to expand the program to regional offices around the country.
The latest trend in anti-Semitism is cyberbullying, or bullying in cyberspace that includes, but is not limited to, cell phones and social media. Cyberbullying extends a bully’s reach beyond the school campus and leaves students vulnerable to harassment even in the privacy of their own homes.
The fear of being singled out as different and the risk of being viewed as an outsider are two often-expressed reasons why too many Jewish youngsters and adults remain silent in the face of anti-Semitism. A strong, positive Jewish identity is closely related to the willingness to respond to anti-Semitism, but even those who wish to respond may not know how. This lack of knowledge may, by itself, be sufficient to explain why children and adults fail to share their personal experiences of anti-Semitism.
The CAS program addresses these issues by allowing participants to acknowledge trends of anti-Semitism locally, nationally and globally; gain awareness about the types of incidents Connecticut families are encountering; understand the impact of anti-Semitism on Jewish families; address the concerns of parents, teens and educators and engage in a forum for dialogue; and develop strategies for support, advocacy and leadership.
“I’m proud to be recognized as a Mover and Shaker, but I’m far more proud of our 14 Teen Trainers,” said Citrin. “By learning how to confront anti-Semitism at such a young age and teaching their peers to do the same, ADL is training these teenagers to be powerful, outspoken and lifelong leaders in their respective Jewish communities. This isn’t just about standing up for the present-day Jewish community, it’s also about ensuring a vibrant Jewish future.”