By Nora Lowe
There is a point in which news of atrocities is no longer shocking. Our generation is so accustomed to hearing of unspeakable acts of hatred that our reactions have become numbed. That is not okay. It is not okay that hate crimes are the “norm.” It is not okay that these tragedies do not carry the same shock value as they did a decade ago. We need to be shocked, because it is only when people are genuinely concerned about an issue that any change can be made.
Last year, hate crimes increased by 20%, with acts targeting Jews specifically constituting the majority of these acts, according to CNN.
Generally, it seems as if Armonk is protected by our “bubble” of wealth and privilege. While economic hardships are significantly less common in Armonk than in other towns, the threat of anti-semitism’s rise is very concerning since there is a fairly high proportion of members of the Jewish community in Westchester, 14% according to the New York Times.
Students at BHHS have begun to take steps towards fighting anti-semitism. Eva Shrayer recently established the Fighting Against Anti-Semitism club, or F.A.A.S., in the hopes of helping students at the high school do their part in spreading awareness about this issue. Eva explained that “In 8th grade, there was an anti-semitic thing that happened to me. The school didn’t do very much about it, and I wanted to provide a safe-space.” She continues that advocating for awareness is extremely important, and that “I really like educating people about it, because not a lot of people know the history of what is going on, so this club supports that.”
Ms. Squadron is the club’s advisor, and explained that Eva approached her about starting the club because she is “her global scholars teacher. We talked about issues of importance in the world in global scholars, and it’s something I care about and think about a lot, so I think she thought I’d be receptive to that.”
The club plans to hold larger events such as having guest speakers, in addition to giving presentations, educating others, and generally just spreading awareness about this issue. They plan to meet monthly. Eva elaborated that part of the main issue is that “Anti-Semitism is on college campuses, and when kids are in the Armonk bubble, they aren’t really exposed to what’s happening, and when they get out of high school, and they get to college…I mean you’re walking on the streets of Boston, or New York City, and you see Anti-Semitic protests, and I don’t think they know what’s actually happening, and what is behind that other perspective.” It is essential to make sure young adults are conscious of the situation.
Ms. Squadron clarified that “basically, this is a community with many Jewish families, many mixed religion families, and I think that it’s an important issue in America right now, partly in the world right now. And so, for the students at Byram Hills to become aware of what’s happening in the world, and what they can do to make it better, is an important thing.”
If you are interested in joining F.A.A.S., feel free to contact Ms. Squadron or Eva. The club meets once a month, and the classroom code is: dv2hfio.