Students from Farber and Hillel engaged with peers from different backgrounds during the National Day of Racial Healing event.
Featured photo courtesy of Hillel Day School
On Tuesday, Jan. 21, students from Farber Hebrew Day School and Hillel Day School participated in the second annual National Day of Racial Healing at Wayne State University.
The event is hosted by Detroit Public Schools Foundation and brings together more than 300 middle school students from Metro Detroit to engage in conversations about racial inequality and discrimination.
Students started the day by watching a performance by the Wayne State Black Theatre and Dance Program’s Freedom Players Ensemble. The actors each took on a persona based on their own experience: one actor was Jewish, one was a homosexual, another was black and so on. The message portrayed was that people should aim to better coexist, regardless of their background.
Students then split off into groups of two to three participants. Facilitators led with ice breakers to encourage students to become more aware of their commonalities.
“I thought it was really interesting because these activities demonstrated that even though we all grew up in different places and communities, we had very similar ideas and experiences,” said Hillel eighth-grader Jesse Weinstein.
The groups then dove into discussions about their diverse backgrounds and how to develop solutions for building better community relations.
“I think this experience was impactful because it allowed us to learn about different races and different religions,” said Farber sixth-grader Oren Opperer. “We became friends by the end of the event and know that we aren’t alone in our communities.”
“A lesson that I am bringing back to Farber and to our Jewish community is that people who are from completely different backgrounds and who value different things can still be very similar in so many ways,” said Grace Kleinfeld, a seventh grader at Farber.
At the end of the day, students shared that they felt adamant about changing the way society thinks and acts when it comes to racial inequality and discrimination.
“We’re planning on hosting a seder for Passover with students from one of the other schools that we worked with at this event,” said Meredith Shapiro, an eighth grader at Hillel. “It will be great to see them all again and take what we learned from this experience and build on our relationships and our communities.