June 13, 2024
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RKYHS Students Advocate for Change

This past Wednesday, a small group of Kushner 10th graders set out on a trip to New York City to help out at an event run by Jew in the City. Allison Josephs, the founder of Jew in the City, has been involved in the field of Jewish outreach for over 20 years and her mission is to reverse negative stereotypes about religious Jews by highlighting an approach based on kindness, tolerance, sincerity and critical thinking. Josephs and her team want to reshape the way the world views Orthodox Jews by proving that Jews can be funny, approachable, educated, pro-women and open-minded by holding in-person events and live streams like the one Kushner students attended on Wednesday.

In recent weeks, there have been multiple inaccurate and offensive jokes in both “Saturday Night Live” and “Nurses”—both NBC productions. One joke suggested that Israel was only giving vaccines to Jews, and the other joked about a Haredi Jew not taking a vital limb from an Arab woman. Jew in the City, as well as other similar organizations, were outraged at the jokes, and after a social media uproar, NBC removed the episode within 26 hours. Staff at Jew in the City acted quickly, setting up Wednesday’s event to advocate for TV producers to depict Orthodox and Haredi Jews more accurately.

When the students arrived at NBC Studios, they met Josephs and her team, and immediately got to work. Students held signs to take pictures for The Jew In the City’s website and social media platforms. They also appeared on a live stream, where they answered questions, such as, “Why did you personally decide to go out and support Jew in the City’s cause,” “How do you think they can change the depiction of Jews in Hollywood?” and many others. Students also had the opportunity to speak to pedestrians walking by, who asked questions and showed interest or curiosity in the cause. The students felt they made a big difference trying to break these disturbing stereotypes made by Hollywood, and thanked Josephs and her team for the opportunity.

Although this issue may not seem like such a big deal, it is important to remember last year’s two gruesome attacks on religious Jews in Monsey and Atlantic City. If Jews keep getting depicted the wrong way in the media, it leads people to think negatively about them and possibly justify attacking them. This group’s goal is to educate others about who the Jewish people really are. They are only trying to spread love, and to quote Josephs, “Meet a Jew, make a friend.”

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