You’re all familiar with the Gedenk Award for Tolerance and the inspiring work of The Gedenk Movement, but we wanted to give you a closer look at the inspirations of co-founder Miri Ben-Ari! Miri took the time to answer some of our most wondered questions, giving us a look into her passions and hopes, and also gave words of advice to all of us that work creatively.
Through the Gedenk Award for Tolerance, students create original works of art and writing to show the importance of cultivating tolerance and safeguarding a peaceful society, based on the lessons learned from the Holocaust and other genocides. You can see the work of last year’s recipients here!
Now let’s hear from Miri!
Alliance: What inspired you to co-found Gedenk?
Miri: I founded the The Gedenk Movement seven years ago because I discovered the urgent need to expand youth education about the Holocaust in order to promote tolerance. As a third generation to Holocaust survivors, I was appalled by studies showing that 50 percent of kids graduating high school in America don’t even know what the Holocaust is. What’s even more concerning is the fact that the young generation doesn’t think that the Holocaust is “relevant” to their lives. I explain more about this in my recent blog on the Huffington Post A World Without Tolerance.
Alliance: What excites you about the voice of young people?
Miri: The young generation is the voice of the future; they can bring a real change and move the world forward. This is why I believe it is so important to promote tolerance to the young generation. This video inspired me and Gedenk to promote awareness and education about the Holocaust and other genocides to today’s youth: www.gedenkmovement.org
Alliance: Where do you find inspiration for your art?
Miri: Everything inspires me; our beautiful world and especially the beauty of people. I was very impressed with the art works submitted by students last year for the Gedenk Award for Tolerance; the works were very creative, original, they delivered the message of tolerance and captured the spirit of the Gedenk Movement. I would like to congratulate our winners again and I am looking forward to checking out the works of the 2015 Gedenk Award for Tolerance movement.
Alliance: Is there a teacher that encouraged you when you were young? Tell us about them.
Miri: All of my violin and Jazz teachers were extraordinary people. I liked best the teachers that believed in me, they inspired me to work harder and to believe in myself. Legendary Jazz vocalist, Betty Carter, who was my teacher and mentor in the Jazz Ahead program for gifted young jazz musicians told me once: “Miri, you are a female, white violinist and therefore you need to be ten times better than anyone else.” I took her advice to my heart and worked harder!
Alliance: What is your advice to young artists and writers?
Miri: Stay true to who you are and don’t be afraid to be original. If you work hard your talent will shine through and the success will follow. For example; when I first produced my song and video “Symphony of Brotherhood” no one believed that an instrumental song could make a difference but it turned out to be the first instrumental single ever to hit Billboard’s R&B/HipHop charts, MTV and VH1.