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Out & About in Cleveland

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Eastern Lake County Coffee Contacts; Dr. Guiora at The City Club of Cleveland; Meet a Muslim; Elected Officials Reception; 9th Annual Stop the Hate Awards

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Our Wednesday, April 26th, we attended five events that couldn't be more different from each other but were all ultimately very rewarding and even though they kept us busy from 8am to 9pm we are very glad that we attended all of them.

The first event of the day was an Eastern Lake County "Coffee Contacts" that took place at the "Geneva Shores Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center" on West Street in Geneva where we were given a tour of the small aka "boutique" facility, which provides both short-term and long-term care, by its administrator, Ms. Elena Marquetti.

When it came time for sharing, Mr. Doug Starkey from the "City of Geneva" and Mr. Jim Santiago from "Crawford Insurance"let it be known that a infant/toddler car seat inspection will be conducted soon by the city. We didn't realize it but such car seats have an expiration date stamped upon them because they wear out quickly and often times they are behind in terms of current safety standards.

We also learned from a local printer that they make it a practice to collect pens from various companies (including one from "Margaret W. Wong & Associates") and place them in bunches of 20 and then give the bundles away to those who are in need of pens. We like this because now more people will be aware of our name.

In our three years of going to chamber of commerce meetings, we have won quite a few door prizes but seldom can make use of the prizes that we won. On this morning the trend was reversed when we won a very sturdy "L.L. Bean" ice carrier bag donated by Mr. Scott Evans, Senior Vice President of Institutional Advancement at "Lake Erie College". This ice carrier will be very useful to us because we now have a way to keep our soy milk cold until we mix it with our coffee which we drink throughout the day.

Next we went to the City Club of Cleveland where Dr. Amos N. Guiora, J.D., Ph.D., Professor of Law at the University of Utah and now retired Lt. Col. in the Israel Defense Forces, was the speaker of the day.

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Dr. Guiora has written several books including "The Crime of Complicity: The Bystander in the Holocaust" which was just published this month. He was motivated to write the book because his Hungarian parents were holocaust survivors and he was greatly troubled by how little if anything their neighbors did to protect them and others who were in danger. He had also examined his own life and faced up to instances when he should have intervened when he encountered people who were in obvious trouble or were being treated atrociously.

At this time, what particularly alarmed him were bystanders who definitely could have/definitely should have spoken up to prevent sexual assaults from taking place. One of the examples he gave was an actual incident wherein college student pretended to be asleep while his roommate and another man raped a young woman on the floor of their dorm room.

Thus not only did Dr. Guiora make an excellent case for "Bystander Laws" at the City Club but, as we found out, he also wrote about how such laws such be drafted in his book. He impressed us as being a very thoughtful, caring person. Another person who thought so was Mr. Avery Friedman, a friend of ours who has known Dr. Guiora for years. Also present on this day was Mr. Ara A. Bagdasarian who encouraged us to view the newly released film, "The Promise" which deals with the Armenian Genocide.

We were sorry that, because their were so many other questions during the Q and A, we didn't get to ask ours which would have dealt with the issue of what should an undocumented immigrant's friends and neighbors do if he/she is apprehended by the authorities and faced with deportation; indeed a very difficult and painful subject.

Next we hurried over to Tri-C Corporate College West on Center Ridge Road where we took part in a program titled "Meet a Muslim" program put on by the "Westshore Muslim Students Association". About 20 or so students turned out and most of the participants enjoyed some good Middle Eastern food (not us because we had just had lunch) and interacted with each other.

The program was introduced by Professor Sarah Hastings who said that the purpose of the gathering was to breakdown barriers and get to know each other because research has shown that if people actually make friends with those of different faiths or ethnicities the less likely they will see them as "others" and will instead focus on their similarities.

Thus we divided into groups and were given a series of questions for each of us to answer like:

Where do you work?

What are you studying?

What was your first car?

What kind of music do you like?

What is your favorite holiday?

What do you know about Muslims?

What have you heard about Muslims?

Not surprising, most of our answers were similar regardless of religious affiliation except that the Muslims in our group naturally knew more about Muslims than did the non-Muslims including ourselves although we are learning more and more all of the time.

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Mr. Ameer Saltia from the "Westshore Muslim Students Association" worked very hard to put this program together which was a lot like the "Teatime for Peace" exercises which we attended last year. Mr. Saltia hadn't heard of "Teatime for Peace" so we promptly emailed him information about it.

As things drew to a close, Professor Hastings was presented with a citation from Mr. Abdullah Yahya Marwi, Goodwill Ambassador from the "World Federation of United Nations Friends".

For us, Professor Hastings was exactly right when she said that we don't need "tolerance" which should be reserved for items like lima beans which we have to eat because they are healthy even though we do not like them. What we need is to build respect and understanding amongst our various cultures.

Westlake is not too far from Avon Lake which is where we went next to attend an "Elected Officials Reception" that was put on by the Lorain County Chamber of Commerce at "Parker's Grille & Tavern" on Walker Road.

While we were there, we were asked about deportation of the undocumented who have committed serious crimes and we replied that we had no problem with that at all.

On a lighter note, we enjoyed meeting and visiting with Ms. Carolyn White, a member of the Sheffield Village Council who had also served on the Lorain City Council for a number of years and Mr. Jeff Heinrich, who is a Public Affairs Liaison for the Treasurer of Ohio.

We had a particularly informative encounter with Councilman John Shondel of Avon Lake who talked to us about his concerns that some bills passed in Columbus might in fact be unconstitutional because they involve more than one subject. The bill that he offered as an example seemed particularly indefensible because it dealt with no fewer than six far-ranging subjects which were beastiality, cell phone towers, the minimum wage, bear baiting and cock fighting, residency requirements of appointed officials, and pet shop restrictions.

Councilman Shondel has been involved with government for many years and he seemed like someone who knew what he was talking about. We would have loved to have been able to talk to him some more but had only a short time before we had to leave to get back to Cleveland for our last event of the day.

And that last event was none other than the 9th Annual "Stop the Hate Awards" put on by the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage at the Milton and Tamar Maltz Performing Arts Center in University Circle.

Ms. Lori Stokes, TV Journalist from WABC-TV and daughter of civil rights pioneer Congressman Louis Stokes, acted as emcee and there were musical performances of social relevance from "Youth Sing Out" groups from Midview High School, the Newton D. Baker School of the Arts, and Shaw High School.

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The highpoint of the night was the introduction of the ten 2017 11th and 12th grade "Stop the Hate" essay finalists who got to read their essays before the judges (including our colleague Mr. George Koussa) and the large audience. Each of the finalists was introduced and briefly interviewed by Mr. Milton Maltz.

In a letter that appeared in the souvenir booklet, Mr. Maltz and his wife, Ms. Tamar Maltz wrote in part, " these students come from different corners of our region and vary in every facet of their identity including age, race, religion, interests passions, yet they have one concept in common: the strength and wisdom to take a stand against the injustices they see and feel around them."

Accordingly, the ten finalists who all wrote from their own experiences were:

Mr. Brian Amusat, 12th Grade, Shaker Heights High School (essay concerned racial harassment)

Miss Tionna Cisco, 11th Grade, Brush High School (essay concerned domestic violence)

Miss Aurora Fleming, 12th Grade, Bay Village High School (essay concerned the need for global engagement)

Miss Zephaniah Galloway, 12th Grade, Cleveland Early College High School at John Hay (essay concerned racial stereotyping)

Mr. Geoffrey Gao, 11th Grade, Solon High School (essay concerned interracial misunderstanding)

Mr. Zachary Holtz, 11th Grade, Gilmour Academy (essay concerned engagement of those with autism)

Miss Muqing Miao, 12th Grade, Gilmour Academy (essay concerned participation in democracy by voting)

Ms. Courtney Reed, 11th Grade, Hawken School (essay concerned racial pride)

Mr. M. Seven Richmond, 11th Grade, University School (essay concerned overcoming religious intolerance)

Ms. Maria Savani, 11th Grade, Gilmour Academy (essay concerned interaction with the mentally challenged)

In the end four of the above the above were selected by the judges to receive accolades and scholarships and they were:

3rd Runner-Up: Mr. Zachary Holtz ($5,000.00)

2nd Runner-Up: Miss Courtney Reed ($10,000.00)

1st Runner-Up: Miss Muqing Mao ($15,000.00)

Grand Prize Winner: Miss Zephaniah Galloway ($20,000.00)

Actually, we think that everyone deserved to win. To select the top four surely involved the splitting of hairs.

Earlier in the evening Ms. Ellen Rudolph, Executive Director of the Maltz Museum, said in her opening remarks:

"As you listen to the essays tonight, consider how many of them deal with situations that arise every day-in any school, in any community. Our students are forced to confront the same complex societal issues that are dominating the national stage: discrimination on the basis of race, religion, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, mental and physical disability. First, students have to process and make sense of these offenses, then they have to figure outhow to respond. All of that under immense pressure to conform and perform in school. Just consider the enormity of that burden...Let's all by inspired by the students here tonight to take action! The world could always use a few more everyday heroes."

 

By:

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC