New York—Grammy award-winning violinist Miri Ben-Ari is denouncing the “Knockout Game” (where one sucker-punches a defenseless victim in the head) and urging young people to engage in tolerance. Ben-Ari is the founder of Gedenk, a not-for-profit organization established in 2006 to promote awareness of how ignorance, bigotry and hatred ultimately result in genocides, even in civilized society, as proven by the Holocaust. Ben-Ari, a granddaughter of Holocaust survivors (Third Generation or 3G), encourages young people to engage in arts and writing and help prevent people from playing the “Knockout Game,” which is spreading like a virus across the U.S. (In Crown Heights, most of the victims have been Jewish.)
Ben-Ari, Gedenk’s CEO, said, “It’s not easy to encourage young people to learn about atrocities such as the Holocaust, but our unique and creative approach can engage the young generation and get them not to become bystanders when it comes to hate acts and brutality based on racism. I urge the global community to promote tolerance and prevent the growing trend of “‘Knockout Games.’”
Ben-Ari has teamed up with the not-for-profit Alliance for Young Artists & Writers to create the Gedenk Award for Tolerance as part of the 2014 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Five national Scholastic Award recipients will be selected to receive the special award, which includes $1,000, for their original work of writing or art.
Said Ben-Ari, “The Jewish Holocaust began with commonplace acts—simple acts of intolerance, prejudice, and bigotry between neighbors, such as those that many of us are used to seeing and ignoring every day; What we are seeing with the ‘Knockout Game’ is intolerance at a disturbing level.”
Gedenk strives to empower young people, giving them the tools to stand up for themselves, their peers and their community against intolerance of all kinds. The goal is to encourage young people to use literary and artistic outlets for self-expression while considering their roles in creating a more tolerant world. Students are asked to create original written pieces or works of art that reflect upon the lessons learned from the Holocaust and other genocides and attempt to raise awareness of the importance of increasing tolerance to safeguard a peaceful society.
Recently, Miri Ben-Ari for the first time talked about how music helped her break her silence by sharing her personal story with the Huffington Post. It starts like this:
“In sixth grade, I asked my mother, “Why do we study history?” I couldn’t understand why events and stories that happened in the past could be relevant to my life today. My mother explained that we must understand where we are coming from in order to better understand who we are in this life. It took me many years to understand what she meant.
Coincidentally, it was also around this time that my teacher asked us to create our family tree as a school project. I remember walking into my grandparent’s one-bedroom apartment in Tel-Aviv, holding a red notebook in my hands. They seemed to be very excited to tell me everything. My Grandma started, “There was a little girl in our town in Poland who played the violin very beautifully. When the Nazis came into town, they cut off both of her hands so she could never play the violin again.” I sat down with them for many hours listening to their horror stories of pain and struggle. I will never forget that day, the only time I’ve seen both of my grandparents crying. The disturbing violinist story has stayed with me—it was not a story for a sixth grader! –especially because I had been already playing the violin for five years at that time and loved it. That day, I learned that the Holocaust was more than just a memorial ceremony in school.”
Read more here:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/miri-benari/music-and-the-third-metric_b_4173197.html.
Coinciding with the Scholastic Awards campaign, Gedenk is celebrating the launch of its newly designed website, GedenkMovement.org. The site is a hub of information and a nexus for young people to explore the themes of Gedenk’s mission of tolerance. The site features forums, blogs, video content, and interactive dialogue that encourage visitors to become a supportive community and share how they have fought back against intolerance. Gedenk is a word that means, “remember” in Yiddish. In that spirit, site visitors can contribute to the virtual memorial by adding a name and message in honor of anyone who endured a form of genocide.
Ben-Ari, a Grammy Award-Winning violinist/producer, is from Israel, and has helped sell millions of records by collaborating with other Grammy award-winning artists such as Kanye West, Jay Z, Wyclef Jean, Alicia Keys, Wynton Marsalis, Britney Spears, Maroon 5, Donna Summer, Janet Jackson and Armin Van Buuren. Her album “Self Titled”/ Universal Records features many of these collaborations. Ben-Ari has been the face of many promotional campaigns, including; Reebok’s “I Am What I Am” global print and TV advertisements, Vodafone, Pepsi , Coca-Cola and now Harman Kardon (products include headphones and home theatre systems). Miri Ben-Ari is the founder and chairman of “Gedenk” and a “Goodwill Ambassador of Music” at the United Nations. Her yet to be titled forthcoming album will be released in 2014. Visit www.miribenari.com