ADL, other organizations present at town hall meeting

Speaking out against hate, community members shared their concerns at a town hall meeting on October 26. The style of the meeting allowed for free discussion in a respectful and collaborative atmosphere.


Zoe Bass

Sharing her wisdom…Teaching community members, deputy regional director Robin Burstein explains the ADL’s mission. Burstein is dedicated to helping to understand and overcome hate.

To hear organizations speak on growing issues in the community and the country, locals gathered at a town hall meeting at the Indian Valley Public Library on October 26.
Representatives from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Children First and Red Wine and Blue shared their organizations’ purposes.
“The ADL is the leading anti-hate organization in the world. Founded in 1913, its timeless mission is to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all,” ADL deputy regional director Robin Burstein said.
Fighting against antisemitism and all forms of hate, Burstein travels the area discussing current issues.
“Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of antisemitism and bias, using innovation and partnerships to drive impact,” Burstein said. “A global leader in combating antisemitism, countering extremism and battling bigotry wherever and whenever it happens, ADL works to protect democracy and ensure a just and inclusive society for all.”
Striving for a world with no hate in it, Burstein loves her job because of “creating relationships and getting to know people.”
“I think the ultimate purpose is a world with no hate. My job in particular is working with and educating the community on a variety of levels, both as ADL independently and in collaboration with our other civil rights organization partners,” Burstein said.
According to Burstein, she has always been happiest in the not-for-profit area.
“I can truly feel like I am making the world a better place,” Burstein said.
To be more understanding and inclusive, Burstein believes the key is to “understand the privilege and biases you hold.”
“We all have some sort of privilege, whether it is skin color, languages spoken, education, connections, etc,” Burstein said. “We all have learned biases. When talking to others, recognize that we don’t all have the same opportunities and backgrounds and ensure that we don’t simply make assumptions about others based on our past experiences.”
Along with the ADL, Children First took part in the meeting represented by education coordinator Dan O’Brien.
“Children First works to improve the lives of our region’s children by developing initiatives and advocating for quality health care, child care, public education and family stability. It’s important because lawmakers need to do more to invest in our children to create more opportunities for them to prosper later in life,” O’Brien said.
According to O’Brien, the purpose of his job is “to ensure our elected officials and others in power make the success and the health of children their first priority.”
“My job entails educating lawmakers on the issues facing kids, building coalitions to advocate for better investments in children and providing a platform for children and parents to use their voice to fight for what’s best for families,” O’Brien said.
Being a former teacher, O’Brien aims to “provide a platform for children and parents to advocate with decision makers.”
“I was a teacher in North Philadelphia and saw how our education system and society as a whole failed my students prior to them even coming to me in high school. I decided to then dedicate my life to ensure my students and fellow teachers had a seat at the table when policies are being created that have a direct impact on them,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien is a firm believer in listening to each other to gain insight and understanding others’ views.
“People should listen to each other more to gain each other’s perspectives. If we listen first, instead of being quick to judge or fearful of change, we will realize we all have more in common than we think. If all feel safe and welcome in their schools, community, etc, it will only benefit us all,” O’Brien said.
Speaking directly to all students, O’Brien encourages them to stand up and give their voice when it comes to their education.
“Students should have a seat at the table when new policies are being implemented at their schools. Students’ voices should also be heard and taken seriously when they are expressing concerns about not feeling welcome or safe at their schools. A school district can only be great if it strives to create a safe-learning environment for all of its students,” O’Brien said.
“Red Wine and Blue fights for common sense and against extremism through relational organizing. Having conversations with people you trust is incredibly effective, especially given the proliferation of misinformation and disinformation,” Pa. regional organizer Karen Moustafellos said.
According to Moustafellos, she loves speaking with women from all political afflictions about their concerns and educating them.
“I am inspired daily by my colleagues fighting for their childrens’ rights, for decency and for democracy,” Moustafellos said.
Moustafellos’ biggest inspiration in her life is her father who works to reunite refugees with their families at the Red Cross in Philadelphia.
“Through his work, I have learned so much about people from the Middle East and Africa. We are so much more alike than we are different. Diversity makes us all more thoughtful, more compassionate and more understanding human beings,” Moustafellos said.