ATLANTA, June 2, 2020 – Enlighten America, our annual Essay Contest for 7th thru 9th-grade students encourages respect and tolerance of our friends’ and neighbors’ diverse religious beliefs and racial/cultural backgrounds.
Vic Anapolle, the coordinator of the essay contest, stated that B’nai B’rith encourages responsibility and mutual respect for the differences in all people. “If we accept the premise that all people are special, we’re better able to accept individual differences.”
This Essay Contest required students to reflect on the concepts of tolerance, equality, and respect for all people. The contest stresses civic harmony over violence and equality over prejudice. To participate, students (grades 7-9) wrote about the significance of the contest theme – respect for our diversity in race, religion, national origin, gender, disability, and sexual orientation – by thinking about the issues of bigotry and prejudice, and how such issues have (or have not) been addressed in recent years.
Twenty-six entries were received by the April 10th deadline. Our appreciation to our distinguished panels of judges: Marcus Brodzki, Mimi Anapolle, Cyndi Levine, Roz Katz, Tony Nicholls, Margie Simonoff, Rabbi Jeff Feinstein, Eric Miller, Jill Rosner, Scott Glazer, Chick Herman, Judy Marx, RuthE Levy, Margo Gold, Melinda Gertz, and Sam Feldman.
Margo Gold commented, “I enjoyed the experience of being a judge and am impressed with the ability of each student to approach this difficult topic with sensitivity and insight.”
Roz Katz shared, “I enjoyed my first experience as a judge. To be honest, I was blown away by the quality of the entries. I believe the future is looking bright with these fine young minds. Thanks for the opportunity to experience something new.”
RuthE Levy, the owner of And Thou Shalt Read bookstore, stated, “All of the essays were amazing. They showed the depth of thought and the variety of concerns these young people have, even at this early age. I was very impressed. And it was so hard to choose a winner because there were so many good ones! Congratulations to the winners and to all who participated.”
Marjorie Simonoff shared, “As I began to read through the essays, I got caught up in the material and was so happy that so many youngsters were given an opportunity to reflect upon and write about this most important subject, which has such relevance in today’s world.”
Marcus Brodzki, the local representative with Israel Bonds, shared, “I was impressed by the depth of feeling students demonstrated in their essays. Whether focusing on the bigotry of the past or today’s modern challenges, the students displayed compassion and empathy. They tackled the issues and presented valuable ideas for addressing injustice and bringing our society closer to the ideal that the United States ‘gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance’.”
The Achim/Gate City Lodge of B’nai B’rith International is proud to announce the following winners of the 2020 Enlighten America Essay Contest:
The 7th Grade First-Place Winner of a $350 prize is Sophie Grace Thomas of Decatur, Georgia for her essay, A Love Driven Mindset: A Guide for Peace. Sophie is 12 years old and in 7th Grade at Woodward Academy.
The 8th Grade First-Place Winner of a $350 prize is Anjana Murthy of Peachtree City, Georgia for her essay, A Light in the Dark. Anjana is 13 years old and in 8th Grade at Woodward Academy.
The 9th Grade First-Place Winner of a $350 prize is Ilana Levenberg of Atlanta, Georgia for her essay, The Need for Truth in Education of Racism’s Past and Present. Ilana is 14 years old and in 9th Grade at The Weber School.
The 7th Grade Second-Place Winner of a $250 prize is Noa Zusman of Sandy Springs, Georgia for her essay, Enlighten America. Noa is 13 years old and in 7th Grade at Woodward Academy.
The 8th Grade Second-Place Winner of a $250 prize is Genesis Isom of Atlanta, Georgia for her essay, Judgement Day. Genesis is 14 years old and in 8th Grade at Woodward Academy.
The 9th Grade Second-Place Winner of a $250 prize is Austin Corn of Dawsonville, Georgia for his essay, Yoda Vs. Prejudice. Austin is 14 years old and in 9th Grade at Dawson County Junior High School.
The 7th Grade Third-Place Winner of a $150 prize is Simran Gupta of Cumming, Georgia for her essay, Welcome to America: The Land of Opportunity for ALL. Simran is 12 years old and in 7th Grade at Lakeside Middle School.
The 8th Grade Third-Place Winner of a $150 prize is Kymali Pierre of Dunwoody, Georgia for her essay, Not Just a Stereotype. Kymali is 13 years old and in 8th Grade at Woodward Academy.
The 9th Grade Third-Place Winner of a $150 prize is Emily Jane Kurtz of Dawsonville, Georgia for her essay, Humans’ Nature to Hate. Emily is 15 years old and in 9th Grade at Dawson County Junior High.
Certificates and checks will be awarded to these grade-level winners at the Enlighten America 2020 Essay Contest AWARDS CEREMONY scheduled Sunday, August 30, 2020, from 3:00 to 4:30 pm at The Weber School (6751 Roswell Road, Atlanta GA, 30328). FREE Admission – RSVP on Eventbrite – Space Limited https://enlightenamerica2020.eventbrite.comThe guest speaker will be Dan Mariaschin, the CEO of B’nai B’rith International, who will speak on “Tolerance, Equality, and Respect for All People”. Dan Mariaschin is recognized globally for his depth and breadth of knowledge of today’s issues and the history that has led us to this time. As CEO, Mariaschin is the public face of B’nai B’rith, coordinating BBI’s programs and policies on issues of concern to the Jewish community. Mariaschin publishes many op-eds each year, is called upon as an expert source by news organizations, chairs global panels and committees, and hosts a podcast. Mariaschin meets with world leaders, seeking to advocate for and advance human rights, protect the rights of Jewish communities worldwide, and promote better relations with the State of Israel.
The 2020 Enlighten America Essay Contest is a volunteer community service project brought to you by the Achim/Gate City Lodge of B’nai B’rith International and is jointly sponsored by businesses, organizations, and individual members of the Achim/Gate City Lodge of B’nai B’rith. We thank our 2020 Enlighten America sponsors for their generosity and support (listed online page 8). Businesses and schools interested in sponsoring or participating in the 2021 Enlighten America contest may contact Harry Lutz at email@example.com.
About B’nai B’rith
B’nai B’rith International has advocated for global Jewry and championed the cause of human rights since 1843. B’nai B’rith is recognized as a vital voice in promoting Jewish unity and continuity, a staunch defender of the State of Israel, a tireless advocate on behalf of senior citizens and a leader in disaster relief. With a presence around the world, we are the Global Voice of the Jewish Community.
B’nai B’rith International is widely respected as one of the world’s largest Jewish membership organizations promoting human rights, community action, and humanitarian efforts. Tikkun Olam is a concept that is an integral part of being Jewish. Loosely translated, it refers to our obligation to repair the world, to make the world a better place in which to live, work, and play. What we in BBI do is in keeping with Tikkun Olam.
The B’nai B’rith Achim/Gate City Lodge, established in 1870, is one of the oldest B’nai B’rith lodges. At the local level, we organize and promote volunteer community service programs, including Pinch Hitters, Enlighten America Essay Contest, Unto Every Person There is a Name, and Cares for Kids.
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