May 23, 2024
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Athletes Against Antisemitism and Discrimination Consortium Launched

(Courtesy of Ferencz Institute) The Benjamin Ferencz Institute for Ethics, Human Rights and the Holocaust (formerly MIMEH) and CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center have launched a new consortium for athletes to raise awareness regarding the Holocaust, antisemitism, and other forms of identity-based hate. The Athletes Against Antisemitism and DiscriminationConsortium will include a comprehensive, experiential curriculum that utilizes books, videos, interactive online discussions, in-person and virtual lectures featuring an internationally recognized speakers’ bureau, and immersive, guided tours to Auschwitz-Birkenau. The Consortium will aim to embolden student-athletes to stand up and speak out when faced with intolerance and injustice and serve as ethical role models for future generations.

The consortium is inspired by the success of the 2018 Davidson College Men’s Basketball Journey of Remembrance to Auschwitz-Birkenau and other similar programs. In 2018, the Maimonides Institute for Medicine, Ethics and the Holocaust (now the Benjamin Ferencz Institute for Ethics, Human Rights and the Holocaust) and CANDLES organized a life-changing trip to Auschwitz for the Davidson College men’s basketball team led by Holocaust survivor and CANDLES founder Eva Mozes Kor. One of the goals for the Consortium will be to support other team trips to Auschwitz-Birkenau beginning in the summer of 2024.

According to Dr. Stacy Gallin, founding director of the Ferencz Institute, “The goal of this consortium is to educate a new generation of leaders about the specific violations of human dignity and human rights that took place during the Holocaust and help them understand the relevance of these lessons for today’s society. We want to inspire athletes to use their platform to stand up and speak out when they witness antisemitism, discrimination and identity-based hatred and become a force for change in the world.”

The Consortium will be headed by recently retired Davidson College Coach Bob McKillop, and will include Gallin and Dr. Amanda Caleb, educational consultant to the Ferencz Institute. Other participants will include Dr. Alex Kor, son of Eva Mozes Kor; Dan Grunfeld, grandchild of Holocaust survivors and son of Olympic Gold medalist, NBA player and executive Ernie Grunfeld, and author of the book, By the Grace of the Game: The Holocaust, a Basketball Legacy, and an Unprecedented American Dream; Graham Honaker and Jerry Logan, authors of the book, Unbracketed: Big-Time College Basketball Done the Right Way, and Rabbi Erez Sherman, co-senior Rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and host of the podcast Rabbi on the Sidelines, which features interviews with key figures in the sports world who are using athletics as a way to foster unity and promote peace among different faiths and cultures.

“Respect, dignity, and civility seem to be ever elusive in our world today. Our leaders must seize the initiative and not idly sit by and abdicate this responsibility,” said Bob McKillop. “It is our plan and our hope that this consortium becomes the voice of respect for the dignity and sanctity of all human lives, no matter the religion, the nationality, the race, or the sex. We will work very hard to fulfill this sacred responsibility.”

The Consortium is being launched at a time when antisemitism and other forms of identity-based hate are on the rise not only in the United States but throughout the entire world and when recent studies have illustrated that younger generations are increasingly unaware of the Holocaust.

A nationwide survey released in 2020 showed a “worrying lack of basic Holocaust knowledge” among adults under 40, including over 1 in 10 respondents who did not recall ever having heard the word “Holocaust” before.

Dr. Alex Kor accompanied the Davidson team in 2018 and said, “College basketball programs are typically measured by the number of wins and championships that they achieve. Yet, years from now, the wins and losses may be forgotten but lessons of hope, healing, humanity, resilience and overcoming adversity that the Davidson team learned from their journey to Auschwitz-Birkenau will be remembered by all forever. And, from above, my mother will be smiling down and realizing that she made a difference. My sincere hope is that through this consortium additional programs will be able to take part in such a transformative experience.”

More information on The Consortium can be found at: https://ferenczinstitute.org/athletes-against-antisemitism-and-discrimination/

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