Words to Action Community

Overview

Words to Action (WTA) Community is an interactive education program for middle and high school youth and adult family members designed to empower and equip the Jewish community with constructive and effective responses to anti-Semitic incidents and the persistent anti-Semitic stereotypes that are often at the root of such incidents. It addresses a range of issues, including:

  • Stereotypes and prejudice
  • Vandalism
  • Harassment
  • Hate incident

The Need for this Program

The Words to Action Community program (originally known as Confronting Anti-Semitism) was created in the 1980s in response to a comprehensive survey of Jewish youth in New England conducted by the ADL. The findings indicated that middle and high school youth were regularly experiencing anti-Semitic comments, taunts, harassment and graffiti in the halls and classrooms of their schools and in their neighborhoods and communities. Rather than standing up to this prejudice, many youth remained silent, both in the face of oppression and later, when they returned to their homes and families.

The Changing Face of Anti-Semitism

ADL’s most recent Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents indicates that almost 80 anti-Semitic incidents happen every month around the country, many of them involving children and teenagers.  Incidents range from verbal and written taunts promoting anti-Semitic stereotypes to threats of violence and physical assaults. Many more incidents go unreported. 

Recent ADL-commissioned focus groups of high school students confirm that anti-Semitism continues to be a part of the lives of Jewish youth today. Participants report hearing jokes and stereotypical remarks about Jews’ appearance, customs and behaviors; seeing swastikas on school desks, bathroom walls and locker doors; and pennies being thrown at Jewish students. Anti-Semitic cyberhate also invades the once safe haven of students’ homes. 

Words to Action helps Jewish youth, family members, teachers and community members address the changing face of anti-Semitism by:

  • Increasing their understanding and awareness of anti-Semitism in their lives
  • Providing opportunities to explore and strengthen their Jewish identity
  • Countering anti-Semitic stereotypes and myths with accurate information
  • Providing skills to respond effectively and appropriately to the variety of ways anti-Semitism manifests itself, from insensitive or biased comments to hate motivated incidents
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How many times have you heard young people complain about someone making an anti-Semitic joke or remark?

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