It’s been a whirlwind week during which I was honored to participate in two Yom HaShoah events as well as an inspiring middle school day dedicated to seeking “Justice For All”.
On Friday, April 25 I journeyed to Rye, NY, where Sara Braun of the Rye Middle School had asked me to help lead their brand new approach to awakening a commitment to justice in their students. The morning began with a screening of Paper Clips, which I used in my remarks to help launch the spirit of the day. Surely the injustice of the Holocaust provides a perfect foundation for any program intended to focus young minds on the need to commit ourselves to tikkun olam — repairing the world. The entire school day was restructured to allow students to attend a variety of workshops in which they interacted with presenters on subjects as diverse as “Food and Justice,” “Moral Dilemmas,” “Prejudice and Stereotypes,” “Poverty and Education,” “Transgender Awareness,” “Religious Differences,” “Transgender Awareness,” and more. As I dropped in on one workshop after another, I was reminded of the power our youth have to change things for the better — a power that we adults need to value and help children discover and put to use.
I wouldn’t have been invited to Rye Middle School were it not for a young filmmaker and actress, Francesca Murdock. We met at last fall’s Rome International Film Festival, where she determined that I should come with Paper Clips to her school. Franca is a young woman who already knows that she can make things happen — and she did!
Monday, April 28, I spent the day at George Mason University — first presenting a documentary class for members of Delta Kappa Alpha, the campus’ cinematic arts fraternity. We hope to work on a project together, and I’ll welcome any opportunity to spend more time with these talented students. That evening, the GMU Hillel sponsored a Paper Clips screening in Mason Hall as a featured part of their commemoration of Yom HaShoah.
The Hillel of Washington and Lee University hosted me for another Yom HaShoah Paper Clips screening on Tuesday, April 30. At Lexington’s Bistro On Main restaurant, I had a really great dinner with acting Hillel director Joan Robins and the wonderful committee of students who organized my visit. Then we walked across the stately campus to the Stackhouse Theatre where a very attentive and appreciative audience enjoyed the documentary. The post-film chat back was a real treat for me because of the enthusiasm of the students and local residents who provoked quite a stimulating conversation.