SALEM Slur mars tolerance event
The 13-year-old Hanna said Monday's episode in Salem demonstrated the need to talk about the hurt of hateful words.
SALEM -- A lesson on racial tolerance demonstrated the need for tolerance after a student yelled "Jew!" at a departing rabbi.
Rabbi Simeon Kolko of Ohev Tzedek-Shaarei Torah Congregation in Boardman, who organized the program, reacted graciously.
At a luncheon later, the rabbi told those attending that while he felt sadness over the episode, Salem residents are good and decent people.
He added, "We cannot let our voices be silent."
The rabbi had invited Hanna Hoy, 13, and her father, Stephen, of Massachusetts to the Mahoning Valley to discuss the "No Place for Hate" tolerance program.
The Hoys' visit was underwritten by Mahoning Lodge 339 of B'nai B'rith.
Rabbi Kolko had suggested the Hoys speak at Salem High School because junior Erin Livingston, 17, who is black, had complained recently of sexual and racial harassment.
The rabbi, the Hoys and Salem High principal Scott Beatty talked to about 400 students in grades nine and 10 Monday morning.
As the rabbi left the school, a boy inside yelled, "Jew!"
The rabbi said that at first he didn't understand what was being shouted, but heard the word a second time.
Beatty said the boy was in the cafeteria and admitted shouting.
The principal said that because of the overlap of classes, the boy had sat through two of the tolerance sessions presented by the Hoys and the rabbi.
"What a great day. The kids opened up a dialogue," the principal said. "There was one kid who missed the point."
Beatty said he couldn't get into specifics about punishment but said, "The situation will be handled."
Describing the event later Monday at the annual business luncheon of the Mahoning Valley Association of Churches at Zion Lutheran Church in Youngstown, Rabbi Kolko spoke of how his spiritual life is enhanced by working with other faiths.
"Tell my friends of faith we have a lot of work to do," Rabbi Kolko said.
Hanna had proposed that her hometown of Hamilton, Mass., enact the "No Place for Hate" program, but town officials vetoed the idea. Communities in the "No Place for Hate" program pass a resolution and then do three activities to promote tolerance.
Rabbi Kolko saw the Hoys on the NBC's "Today Show" on March 28 and asked them to speak locally.
About the program
The "No Place for Hate" program was created by the Anti-Defamation League and enacted it with the Massachusetts Municipal Association. More than 50 communities in that state are taking part in the program.
Hanna said the episode in Salem demonstrated the need to talk about the hurt of hateful words.
She said taking part in the "No Hate" program had made her a better person.
"I think twice before I say something," Hanna said at the luncheon. It was her last stop during a two-day visit to the Valley, her first trip after the "Today Show" to discuss the program.
Hoy, who lives in Beverly, Mass., said, "It's happened in Hamilton and Beverly, and it will happen in Hamilton and Beverly."
Hoy, a psychotherapist, earlier told the Salem students, "All of us are guilty of this."
Beatty said the situation was frustrating. "Our kids had just talked about how they don't want to be stereotyped."
During the morning talks, several students said people who use racial and other slurs must not think highly of themselves. One girl spoke of the need to support Livingston.
In the wake of Monday's episode, some sort of student-led tolerance program will be started, Beatty said.