Lappin Foundation’s Teen Antisemitism Task Force recently kicked off the 2023-2024 year of programming with an engaging and interactive presentation by Rachel Brynien from the organization Cyberwell, located in Israel. Cyberwell is the world’s first live database of online antisemitism. They use cutting-edge technology to collect digital hate so it can be studied and stopped. Their platform is designed to drive the enforcement and improvement of community standards and hate speech policies across the digital space. Cyberwell provides a practical way for teens to actually do something in a meaningful way to combat antisemitism.
Scrolling on social media and seeing antisemitic content has become sadly more and more common in recent months, especially with celebrities like Kanye West coming forward with publicly anti-Jewish takes. Cyberwell feels both empowering and protective as a service that allows me to personally report posts but also crawls through entire social media sites while checking for discriminatory content. It feels like a relief and even a weight lifted off my shoulders. It was especially interesting to hear Rachel explain the actual function of the site from a technological/programming standpoint and how they highly value transparency in data.
One big takeaway for me from the meeting was that Jewish teens have to do their own part in the fight against antisemitism. Learning about Cyberwell made it easy for me to take action and make a difference. While it may feel overwhelming to see antisemitic content online, it contributes to the greater safety of our community to take a minute to step aside and report the post and recognize that we can actually change this.
The Teen Antisemitism Task Force is a place where teens of all faiths can learn about antisemitism and do something concrete to combat it and all forms of hate. It’s a place to learn practical skills while building a network of teens for support when we need it. As a student at Newton South High School, I’ve seen a lot of antisemitism in the past few years and have felt almost powerless to stop it as reports of swastika graffiti and more continue to come in. The task force gives me an opportunity to project my voice as a Jewish teen and help others in fighting similar issues of oppression. I feel like the task force’s unique ability to reach across the country, with attendees as far as New Jersey at the last meeting, really highlights the impact our meetings and presence can have as a safe space for teens of all faiths who want to combat hate.
I think teens should join the task force to feel this sense of a Jewish community in a time when social media can leave many feeling isolated. It’s hard to be a teenager of any kind, but it can feel especially hard to be Jewish in a place without many other Jewish teens or with frequent antisemitism. The task force offers a place to learn about our culture in a modern context and for other non-Jewish people to learn as well.
The task force meets on Zoom once a month on Tuesday evenings. Click here to view the upcoming schedule, speakers and topics and to register for the meetings. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Max Hubbard is co-chair of the Teen Antisemitism Task Force and a junior at Newton South High School.
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