The recent rise in hate crimes concerns many people.
Unlike many, Steve Ginsburg can do something about it.
The Westport resident is the Anti-Defamation League’s Connecticut director. He’s at the forefront of the fight against hate in all forms — not just antisemitism, but racism, Islamaphobia, LGBTQ bias and more.
The other day at the Westport Library’s Verso Studios, Ginsburg talked about prejudice — where it comes from, what it means, where we’re headed. He also discussed his own route to the ADL, and how a Midwestern sports lawyer ended up in Westport.
Click here for the latest edition of “06880: The Podcast.”
Screenshot of Steve Ginsburg, from “06880: The Podcast.”
There are 169 towns and cities in Connecticut. But 2 Westporters — one current, one former — have made Connecticut Magazine’ s “40 Under 40” list. The feature celebrates 40 Nutmeggers doing interesting and/or important work, all before their 40th birthday.
Andy Friedland now lives in New Haven, but he grew up here. Here’s the magazine’s shout-out to the 2008 Staples High School graduate:
With a sharp rise in hate crimes statewide nationally and internationally in the past 3 years, Friedland’s job as associate director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Connecticut office keeps him busy.
A former team leader with AmeriCorps, he is a primary responder to combat anti-Semitism, other bias incidents and all forms of bigotry. He works with schools, law enforcement and “whoever comes into the picture” to educate people about anti-Semitism and its local origins.
Friedland has led educational programs on topics such as the Holocaust and genocide and the separation of church and state. He has lobbied for and testified for the ADL’s initiative Backspace Hate for legislation to address online harassment, including cyberstalking.
Connecticut has good laws, Friedland says, but adds that it’s important to “keep laws up to date and take on the issues that are really important and dangerous.”
Andy Friedland (Photo by Harold Shapiro for Connecticut Magazine)
Dan Orlovsky grew up in Shelton, but lives here now. His writeup says:
Orlovsky has been famous in Connecticut since he was a teenager. In 2000, the senior quarterback led Shelton High School to an undefeated season and the Class LL state championship before being named state player of the year.
Despite receiving interest from traditional college football powerhouses, Orlovsky stayed in state and attended UConn. He rewrote the school’s record book — still holding every major passing mark in Huskies history to this day — and also led UConn to the program’s first bowl game, a 39-10 win over Toledo in the Motor City Bowl in 2004. Orlovsky was named MVP of the game.
The Detroit Lions selected Orlovsky in the fifth round of the 2005 NFL Draft. Serving mostly as a backup QB in his 12 years in the league, Orlovsky was uniquely preparing himself for his second career as an ESPN football analyst.
Orlovsky was already considered a rising media star when he joined the network in 2018. Now he provides color commentary in the broadcast booth (he recently called the Camping World Bowl on TV and the Rose Bowl for radio) and intelligent and insightful analysis on studio shows including Get Up!, NFL Live and SportsCenter.
Dan Orlovsky (Photo by Melissa Rawlins/ESPN for Connecticut Magazine)
Congratulations, Andy and Dan. And to all you other Westporters under 40: Get to work!
(For the full “40 Under 40” story, click here. Hat tip: Amy Schafrann)
Tonight at 5 p.m., on Jesup Green, we will come together to define who we are as a community, in a struggling country.
Anti-Semitic incidents have been increasing in America at an alarming rate. The Anti-Defamation League says that in 2017, anti-Semitic incidents jumped 57% over the previous year, and 2018 showed the third-highest rate of incidents on record. This year is faring no better.
Westport — as we know from last week — is not immune.
The discovery of a swastika, carved into a bathroom wall, has challenged our community. The question is how we deal with that challenge.
We need to focus not on “who?” but “how?” How did the plague of hatred in this struggling nation manage to puncture our town? Whether the perpetrator was a white nationalist (unlikely), or looking for attention (more likely), the ball is in our court.
And all Westporters are on that court, whether we want to be there or not. Our response matters.
According to Steve Ginsburg, director of ADL Connecticut — and a Westport resident — “The measure of that school, or that community, is not what happened there, but how they respond to it, and what they did to try to prepare people and prevent it from happening.”
True to that statement, Westport schools have handled the incident swiftly and expertly, with the collaboration of the Westport Police, the ADL, and the support of our elected officials.
Education is always the key. But education should not be limited to school grounds and school hours.
How much do you know about your child’s understanding of the symbol of a swastika? How do they feel when they see one? Afraid? Numb? And are there other forms of intolerance — to race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity — occurring in our kids’ lives? How can we help?
Tonight at 5 on Jesup Green, we come together as a community to learn from those who know how to begin answering these questions.
By this effort — not the hate crime — we will be measured.
(Speakers include Ginsburg; Lauren Francese, K-6 social coordinator, Westport Public Schools; Rev. John Morehouse, Unitarian Church of Westport, and Conor Pfeifer, Triangle Community Center. For more information, click here.)
Trevor Noah was the highly anticipated featured star at tomorrow’s Anti-Defamation League “Voices: A Show of Unity” fund-raiser and community celebration. (Sunday, November 11, 5 p.m., Klein Auditorium, Bridgeport; click here for more details.)
But the “Daily Show” host bruised his vocal chords. He canceled all performances until Monday.
The ADL is used to dealing swiftly with crises. True to form, they scoured the country and found a fantastic replacement: Whoopi Goldberg.
The actress/comedian/author/television host will fill in.
Posted onNovember 6, 2018|Comments Off on ADL After Pittsburgh: Activism, And Trevor Noah
The Anti-Defamation League is always busy.
But in the wake of last month’s horrific shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, the anti-hate organization’s Connecticut office went into overdrive.
Statewide director Steve Ginsburg — a Westport resident — spoke to a crowd of 1,000 at an interfaith vigil at the Conservative Synagogue here. He also addressed a Stamford vigil, and attended events in Bridgeport and Hartford. Other ADL officials talked elsewhere around the state.
Ginsburg met with Senator Richard Blumenthal, and spoke by phone with politicians and candidates across the political spectrum. When an anti-Semitic campaign mailer went viral, the organization responded.
ADL presented a program in Bridgeport, on how adults and youngsters can confront anti-Semitism. They sent curriculum resources to dozens of schools and trainers.
ADL also worked with law enforcement officials across Connecticut.
All of that takes time, effort — and money. The Pittsburgh murders came just as the ADL was ramping up publicity for its major fundraiser of the year.
“Voices: A Show of Unity” is also an ADL community-builder. They give free tickets to many local organizations, including CONECT, CIRI, NAACP, IRIS, The Urban League, GLSEN, Greater Bridgeport Latino Network and Voices of Hope.
The event is this Sunday (November 11, 5 p.m., Klein Auditorium in Bridgeport).
The headliner is a perfect fit for these times. Trevor Noah was born in South Africa to a black mother who converted to Judaism, and white father. His parents could not be seen in public together.
The “Daily Show” host will be funny, of course. But he won’t do stand-up. He’ll offer attendees his take on the world.
The world is a dangerous place. There’s more than enough hate to go around.
The ADL does what it can to combat bigotry and evil. On Sunday, they ask our help so they can keep doing it.
Fairfield County is a microcosm of our country. People of every race, ethnicity and religion — and with every imaginable political view — live within minutes of each other.
But we all live in strictly defined towns and cities. We hardly ever mix — let alone listen to each other.
For over 100 years, the Anti-Defamation League has used its strong voice to build mutual respect among communities.
On Sunday, September 10 — thanks to the leadership of ADL’s Connecticut director Steve Ginsburg, a Westport resident — the organization will use many voices to bring area residents togetherin a celebration of similarities and differences.
“Voices: A Concert for Unity” will inspire its Levitt Pavilion audience through music, dance, video and spoken word. The list of performers is very impressive.
Emcee Paul Shaffer — of David Letterman fame – will introduce the red-hot Plain White T’s, and national artists Suzanne Vega, Garland Jeffreys and Napoleon da Legend.
Plain White T’s
They’ll be joined by Westporters who have earned national notice: Alisan Porter (winner of “The Voice”), “Newsies” star Adam Kaplan, Michael Bolton’s drummer Drew McKeon, and Justin Honigstein (lead singer of Honeystone). The Staples High School 2016-17 Orphenians will sing too.
Also onstage: Bridgeport’s ABCD, Neighborhood Studios and Pivot Ministries Choir; Weston’s Chris Coogan and the Good News Choir, and Fairfield’s Double Up Dance Studio and FRANK (School of Rock).
Westport’s own Alisan Porter. with “The Voice” trophy.
Artistic director Sarah Green is one of the Founders of Kool to be Kind, and the director of the wildly successful Slam Jam held earlier this year at the Westport Country Playhouse.That broad array of talent is matched by a variety of partners. ADL is working with more than 40 non-profits across the area.
They’re reaching out too to religious groups, universities, local and state law enforcement agencies, and government officials across the political spectrum — though this is a non-political event.
The outpouring of support from national and local celebrities, businesses, volunteers and the host town of Westport is greater than for any previous local ADL event, organizers say.
Sponsors are still being sought, to enable community partners to attend free of charge — and help fund ADL’s programs to fight bias, bigotry and bullying of all kinds.
ADL has been a powerful voice in an important fight. They’ve assembled other powerful voices for September 10. Now you can add yours, too.
(For tickets to “Voices: A Concert for Unity,” click here. To learn more about sponsorships click here, or contact Terry Sidera by email [firstname.lastname@example.org] or phone [203-780-0209]).
Once again, Westport residents have found flyers with disturbing messages in their driveways, in this case with neo-Nazi and white supremacist content.
This latest incident comes almost 2 years to the day after disturbing flyers appeared in other parts of our town. I am concerned and angry that once again statements like this have found their way to Westport homes. As I said 2 years ago, this kind of ethnic ugliness has no place anywhere, and certainly not in Westport.
I have always been proud to speak of Westport as an open and welcoming community, and I continue to believe that the vast majority of Westporters practice that belief through tolerance, inclusion and everyday civil behavior. Unfortunately, the last few years and months have reminded us that our nation still needs to deal with some serious societal and behavioral issues, and we are again reminded that Westport is not necessarily immune.
One of the flyers that was tossed in Westport driveways yesterday.
Westport must not tolerate the threatening, bullying and hateful messages that are at the heart of these flyers. We must reinforce our commitment to civil discourse and to the tolerance for residents of all backgrounds. Regardless of the reasons behind these intolerant statements, we must create a political and social climate that rejects these kinds of statements out of hand and allows all opinions to be heard in an open and non-threatening manner.
Our police department is working with other area police departments to attempt to identify the source of these latest disturbing and inflammatory messages. The town is also working with the Connecticut region Anti-Defamation League to identify possible sources but also to seek ways to appropriately combat this type of threatening activity.
I will also ask TEAM Westport to again work with the Interfaith Clergy and other appropriate Town agencies and civic groups to lead our community’s response to these outrageous statements and, as importantly, how to deal with the behaviors and beliefs that underpin them.
Police Chief Foti Koskinas added:
Not only do we want to keep our community safe, but we strive to also give peace of mind. When you combine the content of the flyer and the nature in which this was done, we recognize the concern and alarm it may cause. We are working diligently to determine who is responsible, and look further into the motive.
In an age of rising anti-Semitism and distrust of “others,” hearing their first-hand stories is more important than ever.
Recently, Margie Treisman — a Westport Country Playhouse trustee and Anti-Defamation League national commissioner — was asked to help develop educational programming around an upcoming Playhouse production of “The Pianist of Willesden Lane,” about the Kindertransport children’s rescue.
She called Margie Lipshez-Shapiro. An ADL of Connecticut official and noted Holocaust educator, she knows almost every living survivor in the state who is willing and able to tell their tale.
Lipshez-Shapiro suggested Ivan Backer, a Kindertransport survivor who has written about his journey, and his life afterward. Backer will be at the Playhouse next Wednesday (March 29, 7 p.m.), as part of conversation called “From Hate to Hope.”
The event — sponsored by the Playhouse, ADL and TEAM Westport — is funded by the Anita Schorr “Step in and Be a Hero” Fund. Schorr — a longtime Westporter and Holocaust survivor who inspired thousands with her story of horror and hope — died last year. The event is free, but seats must be reserved by phone (203-227-4177). For more information, click here.
“The Pianist of Willesden Lane” follows a week later with a limited run at the Playhouse (April 5-9). The true story of a young musical prodigy, it intertwines the themes of family, hope and survival with piano selections by Chopin, Beethoven, Bach — even a little Gershwin. Click here for more information.
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