Four modern-day heroes in the fight against hate were recognized and honored at the 18th annual Anti-Defamation League (ADL) In Concert Against Hate, chaired by Dr. Tina Alster and Ambassador Paul Frazer, at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on October 15. Each honoree was presented with the ADL Ina and Shelley Kay Award for extraordinary acts of courage in confronting intolerance, injustice, extremism and terrorism. The event raised almost $850,000 for the ADL which directly supports their programs and services that combat all forms of hate and bigotry. The gala actually began on Sunday evening with the Patron Dinner at the Alster-Frazer residence on Smith’s Row in Georgetown. Attending were some of the biggest donors to the ADL, ADL leadership, Madeleine Stowe, Wolf Blitzer, and this year’s honorees.
The concert produced by Bonnie Nelson Schwartz featured inspiring music and testimonials about extraordinary acts of courage in confronting intolerance. A dramatic reading of each hero’s story was given by actors Jeff Daniels (HBO’s “The Newsroom“) and Madeleine Stowe (ABC’s “Revenge“) at the concert that featured the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO), conducted by Emil Du Cou. Before an audience of about 2,300, the honorees who received recognition included Irene Fogel Weiss, a Holocaust victim and Auschwitz survivor; Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, a former Freedom Rider and civil rights icon; Police Officer Moira Ann Smith (posthumously), who saved hundreds of people at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001; and Amardeep Singh Kaleka, the son of a victim of the Wisconsin Sikh Temple shooting on August 5, 2012. During the awards presentation, Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the ADL, dedicated the evening’s events to Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager who is recovering from a gunshot to the head that she received at the hands of the Taliban for her defiance in support of female education.
“Malala Yousafzai was courageous in her determination to stand up to the forces of evil and extremism and to speak clearly for her conviction that women deserve better from a society and a system that has failed them in Pakistan,” Mr. Foxman told the audience. “We hope and pray that next year, or the year after, we will be able to honor her at a future ‘Concert Against Hate.’ ” The honorees included Holocaust survivor Irene Fogel Weiss who had been deported to Auschwitz when she was 13 years old. Decades later she learned that her arrival at Auschwitz was captured in an iconic photograph taken by the Nazis. Honoree Joan Trumpauer Mulholland was a former Freedom Fighter who spent her college student years working and advocating for equal rights. She participated in the infamous sit-in at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in Jackson, Miss. in May 1963. Police officer Moira Ann Smith received her award posthumously. She is credited with saving hundreds of lives at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. For his bravery and leadership in leading the congregation of his temple and serving as the spokesperson and healer after the horrific attack by a white supremacist that took the life of his father and temple founder, Satwant Singh Kaleka, Amardeep Singh Kaleka was also recognized.
Daniels and Stowe narrated the awards portion of the concert. Both were clearly moved by the stories they told their audience. Stowe relayed the harrowing history of Irene Fogel Weiss who had survived eight months in Auschwitz as a 13-year-old girl. She had been forcibly separated from her mother, sister and father, whom she later discovered all met their deaths at the crematorium. Stowe vividly described how Irene asked herself over and over again in the confines of the concentration camp barrack, “Why are you not crying?” Stowe’s eyes glistened and her voice cracked as she described the dramatic acts of bravery by Police Officer Moira Ann Smith during the melt down of the World Trade Center Towers on September 11. Her widower and daughter, James Smith and Patricia Mary Smith, accepted the posthumous award. Officer Smith had entered and exited the incinerating South Tower several times leading out hundreds of survivors before meeting her own fate. Her badge was uncovered intact months later in the rubble of the South Tower.
Daniels’ voice rose with strength and emotion as he described how Jean Trumpauer Mulholland, the former Freedom Fighter, had spent months in a Mississippi jail where she “detached in order to deal with the fear” and subsequently became the first white student at Tugaloo University. While there, she worked with her colleagues to arrange the momentous sit-in at the Woolworth lunch counter in Jackson, Miss. that is represented in the iconic photograph of the civil rights movement. Daniels also relayed the terrible moment Amardeep Singh Kaleka was thrust into the lime-light as the spokesperson for his temple and its congregation when his father, the temple founder, was mercilessly gunned down after wrestling with the terrorizing white supremacist. His actions saved other temple members from the same fate. Daniels recalled the chilling words received by Amardeep when a stranger answered his father’s cell phone as Amardeep tried to reach him after learning about the siege, “I am answering your father’s phone, because he is at my feet bleeding.” The honorees received standing applause from the packed audience as the NSO began to play, the Richard Rodgers’ song, “You’ll Never Walk Alone” rose in the background. The strength and resilience of the human spirit glowed throughout the auditorium as the final strains of music faded into the evening.