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'Driving out Darkness in the Heartland' brings experts, KC community together to discuss antisemitism

Vanessa Huskey, spectator at Tuesday's symposium
Posted at 6:32 PM, Apr 16, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The American Jewish Committee found antisemitism is up 400% since Oct. 7, 2023.

In response, a first-of-its-kind summit was held Tuesday at Rockhurst University to help teach those who are not part of the Jewish community how to be better allies.

"The questions I've heard people ask in the past six months: When will we know when it's time to leave? Should we have a bag packed? Should we buy property abroad?" said Gavriela Geller, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Bureau with the AJC.

Gavriela Geller introduces speakers at "Driving out Darkness in the Heartland".

AJC found 63% of Jews in the United States feel less secure than a year ago. The organization also reported 78% of Jewish Americans feel less safe after the Oct. 7 attacks in Israel.

Thus, the 2024 Regional Summit on Combating Antisemitism was created.

Speakers like Mindy Corporon, with SevenDays, Kevin Clayton, with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and second gentleman Douglas Emhoff offered perspectives on combating antisemitism and how to be an ally.

The discussion was titled "Driving out Darkness in the Heartland."

"As we've seen rising antisemitism in the country, it's never just the Jewish community that's at risk, it's a society-wide problem," said Ted Deutch, AJC CEO.

Ted Deutch, CEO of the AJC

Vanessa Huskey studied human relations. As a leader in the Christian community, she felt inclined to learn more about other cultures.

"It's just unfortunate that people's minds have not changed," Huskey said. "They don't understand that if you want me to love you the way you are and you want me to respect your opinions, your beliefs, then how come you don't respect mine?"

Second Gentleman of the United States, Douglas Emhoff.

While more learning is to be done, Emhoff said there is hope despite the frightening statistics.

"We still have to be joyful about being Jewish," he said.

"Driving out Darkness in the Heartland" is part of KSHB 41's SevenDays of Kindness event coverage.