NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The recent rise in hate crimes has jolted New York City, but that violence has also inspired a movement to educate young people about Jewish history and culture.
Many students from Brooklyn South High Schools learned about Jewish history, Jewish culture and even Jewish food for the first time Thursday.
The group of about 100 students started the day with a March For Love Not Hate, then they got a tour of the Jewish Children’s Museum in Crown Heights.
“With them showing up here, high school students being aware of what’s going on and saying this is not OK to be happening in the city — my heart is soaring today,” said Devorah Halberstam, co-founder of the museum.
The visit is in response to the surge of hate crimes in Brooklyn.
As anti-Semitic attacks are on the rise, school leaders are hoping to educate students about other cultures.
“Empathy. Certainly more empathy, not only for others, but just more empowerment for themselves, that they can be on the front lines, making a difference,” said Michael Prayor, superintendent of Brooklyn South High Schools.
Students from across Brooklyn South were eager not just to learn about other cultures but to be a part of a movement toward peace.
“The police can only do so much, so, like, it’s up to the people of the community. It’s up to us, to students to make a change,” said Kenett Petion, a senior at William E. Grady High School.
“I’m hoping to gain more knowledge, gain more experience and help better the community,” said Jasmine Unay, a senior at FDR High School.
This visit comes just as the New York City Department of Education ramps up hate crime awareness in public schools.
The city has partnered up with the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park to send all eighth and 10th grade classes in Williamsburg, Crown Heights and Borough Park on field trips to the museum. The goal? To fight ignorance and fear.
“You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear, and you’ve also got to be taught to not hate,” said Jack Kliger, president and CEO of the Museum of Jewish Heritage.
In addition to the field trips, for some Brooklyn students, all New York City public school students and their families can visit the Museum of Jewish Heritage free of charge.