RIH Students Learn to Combat Hate

Ramapo Indian Hills Students Learn Strategies to Combat Antisemitism and Other Forms of Hate
Posted on 03/12/2024
Students at Ramapo and Indian Hills high schools are getting unique opportunities to deepen their understanding of antisemitism and racism, and raise their awareness of hate crimes and bias incidents through engaging presentations facilitated by “Better Together.”

The Better Together initiative, a collaborative between Andrea Winograd of the Holocaust Museum & Center for Tolerance and Education and Virginia Norfleet of the Haverstraw African American Connection, combats racism, antisemitism, and all forms of hate through community building, conflict resolution and critical dialogue., School-wide presentations in school auditoriums, featuring PowerPoint presentations and Q&A, were held March 7 and 8 for the entire student body in both schools. 

According to the Anti-Defamation League, in the three months following the invasion of Israel on Oct. 7, and subsequent eruption of conflict between Israel and Gaza, U.S. antisemitic incidents have skyrocketed, reaching a total of 3,291 incidents between Oct. 7 and Jan. 7. This represents a 361% increase compared to the same period one year prior. Since Oct. 7, there was an average of nearly 34 antisemitic incidents per day, putting 2023 on track to be the highest year for antisemitic acts against Jews since ADL started tracking this data in the late 1970s.

“These presentations provided students with valuable insights into the historical context and contemporary manifestations of antisemitism and other vile hate crimes,” said Interim Superintendent of Schools Dr. James C. Baker. “I appreciate how Andrea and Virginia held open discussions and encouraged reflection on the importance of tolerance, empathy, and solidarity.” Through knowledge and awareness, Better Together empowers students to become agents of change in the communities, serving as advocates for inclusivity and justice.

“We have to conduct ourselves as one. When we marginalize one person, we marginalize all of us,” said Ramapo Principal Travis Smith. “By fostering a culture of inclusivity, understanding, and respect, we empower our students to reject hate in all its forms and embrace the richness of diversity." Better Together created a safe space for students to explore complex issues surrounding hate, while also emphasizing the shared humanity that unites us all.  “By joining together and engaging in meaningful conversations, we can build a more compassionate and inclusive world,” said Indian Hills Principal Dr. Gregory Vacca. “We are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to partner with Better Together to combat hate and foster mutual understanding.”