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By D.A. WILKINSON



Published: Mon, April 15, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



By D.A. WILKINSON

VINDICATOR RELIGION EDITOR

YOUNGSTOWN -- Stephen Hoy is involved in an interfaith council in Beverly, Mass.

He suggested his daughter, Hanna, 13, take part in the No Place for Hate campaign for a school project.

The Anti-Defamation League with the Massachusetts Municipal Association created the campaign in 1999 to fight hatred and discrimination. More than 50 communities in that state have passed resolutions to take part and are involved in anti-hate programs.

So one year ago, Hanna wrote all the churches in her white, affluent hometown of Hamilton, Mass., about the program.

"No churches addressed the letter," Stephen Hoy said.

And when the proposal was presented to Hamilton officials, they decided not to take part. The measure may be presented to town officials again or enacted through a public vote.

The proposal, Hanna said, "should not have become this big."

Hanna appeared on NBC's "Today" show last month to discuss her campaign to get her hometown to adopt the anti-hate campaign. She spoke Sunday at Rodef Sholom Temple, her first appearance outside Massachusetts to discuss the program, aside from the "Today" appearance.

Rabbi Simeon Kolko of Ohev Tzedek-Shaarei Torah Congregation in Boardman invited the Hoys to the Mahoning Valley, saying that learning from them "makes us better as people and better as a community."

Hanna described herself as a normal teen who enjoys video games.

She pointed out she didn't see herself as a firebrand, joking that her push for the No Place for Hate campaign "was a little more exciting than raking leaves."

And Hamilton, she stressed, is "not a 'come here if you want to hate' place."

Disturbing attitude: Still, the youth said there's a perception in her hometown that everyone is perfect, though she heard comments from youths about "cripples" and "retards."

Hanna said she had been told by an adult she was too young to make a difference.

There was an attitude that such comments "didn't really matter," said Hanna, even though her father uses a wheelchair. She said she would hear her classmates say, "'That's so Jewish' -- meaning dumb."

There is a need for such campaigns, she said: "After Sept. 11, everyone is looking for a place they can be accepted."

Leadership needed: Rabbi Kolko told the youths at the temple that if they are going to speak out against such intolerance, "You have to have a sense of your own power."

And whether it's youths or adults speaking out, it becomes a question of moral leadership, said her father.

The Mahoning Valley may be in a period of transition in the wake of the conviction of Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. on federal corruption charges, Stephen Hoy noted.

"Each step we take makes a difference," he said.

About 100 children attended two sessions at the temple. A few black youths and adults attended the program.

Several youths said they saw no overt signs of racism in their schools.

Hanna was to speak today to pupils in Salem and at the Mahoning Valley Association of Churches.




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