March 31, 2019 — Maplewood, New Jersey
This past Sunday, AJC New Jersey’s very own Assistant Director, Dena Dubofsky, was asked to speak at an Interfaith Youth Group event for over 100 local teens. The event embodied the Jewish idea of l’dor v’dor, from generation to generation – and this theme was woven throughout the event – from the attendees and volunteers to the presenters. The speakers included a survivor, the child of two survivors, and Dena, a Jewish millennial. The first two speakers told tales of bravery, resilience, and fear in a time of great hatred and anti-Semitism.
Next, Dena took the lessons of the past and brought them into the present. She talked about some of the reasons social media has allowed for the recent growth in hate and anti-Semitism. Dena clearly identified reasons including the ability to comment anonymously, access to limitless information, and the desire for “Instagram famous” individuals to gain followers instead of standing up to hate.
The level of thoughtfulness and engagement in the room was clear and contagious. These are young people who want to use their voices for good and be engaged citizens and they were inspired by seeing a young professional woman with whom they could clearly relate. The most important message of the night was that while some may use social media for bad purposes, we all have the power to use social media for good. We can pressure social media platforms and advertisers to not allow hateful rhetoric on their sites; we can counter false information with real information; and we can engage people of all faiths in conversation. Until we work to understand one another, we cannot work to fix problems.
It was made clear that the next generation of leaders can and should be this generation of leaders. They have learned the lessons of our ancestors and are ready to lead the next wave of fighting anti-Semitism.