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New play aims to shine a light on anti-Semitism

<i>KMBC</i><br/>Actors perform their roles in a play in Overland Park
KMBC
KMBC
Actors perform their roles in a play in Overland Park

By Bianca Beltrán

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    OVERLAND PARK, Kansas (KMBC) — On the first night of Hanukkah, the Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City debuted a play created to raise awareness about anti-Semitism. “Thank You For Meeting Me Here” explores a conversation between a Jewish girl and a student who drew a swastika on her locker. Inspired by a true story, the play commissioned by the Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City explores a conversation between a Jewish girl and the student who drew a swastika on her locker. Instead of punishment by the school, she aims to educate the teenage boy.

“What did you think would happen?” asked Emma Jacobson playing Joni.

“I don’t know it was just a joke,” replied Jack Hankcock as Marcus.

The characters discuss anti-Semitism, the Holocaust and how painful rhetoric can lead to violence. Playwright Victor Wishna said much of the dialogue is inspired by the experiences of students in the Kansas City area. A recent survey by the Jewish Community Relations Bureau AJC found 75 percent of Jewish middle and high school students reported experiencing anti-Semitism.

“I will say that in the last year, definitely in May of 2021, I saw a ton of anti-Semitism, and a lot of anti-Israel rhetoric online, on social media,” said Jacobson. “That really lit the fire in me to keep speaking out as much as I can.”

“It was eye opening for me. Once I agreed to do this, to see what the situation was,” said Wishna. “I didn’t know that our kids were dealing with this way. And so, I’m hoping that if this gives them an opportunity to talk about it, for their friends, other Jewish friends and non-Jewish friends to talk about it. That’s hopefully the beginning of redirecting what unfortunately, seems to be like a bit of a rising tide.”

The next performance of the play is on Tuesday, November 30th at Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy in Overland Park. The group aims to take the play to more schools and provide resources for students and faculty to address anti-Semitism.

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