The Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage is pleased to announce that winners of the 2020 Stop the Hate essay contest will be named on Thursday, May 14 at 10 AM. The public is invited to visit the Maltz Museum website (www.maltzmuseum.org) for the reveal of which Northeast Ohio students and schools will be taking home scholarships and prizes totaling $100,000.
Stop the Hate is a contest celebrating 6th – 12th graders standing up and speaking out against bias and bigotry as they compete for the chance to win a prestigious award. Each year about 3,000 students enter, and with the help of 400 volunteer readers, 25 finalists are named, but there can only be one grand prize winner.
“It’s highly competitive,” said Dahlia Fisher, the museum’s director of external relations. “All the essays are incredibly brave and compelling. We wish everyone could win!”
The Maltz Museum estimates that since the contest started 12 years ago, over 30,000 students in 12 counties across Northeast Ohio have participated, and as of this year, $1.2 million will have been awarded. The top prize is a $40,000 college scholarship for the winning student and $5,000 anti-bias education grant to the winner’s school. There are several other categories in which students take home money, but none other is as large.
The contest began twelve years ago, when the Maltz Museum recognized students needed a platform.
“About one-third of our visitors are school groups exploring Jewish history and heritage, often for the first time,” explained Fisher. “Some students may not have met a Jewish person before, while others may be curious about Jewish stereotypes they’ve heard. This is a safe space to ask questions, learn about another culture, and begin to understand that no matter what our cultural differences are, there are some shared experiences that we can all relate to.”
Those shared experiences are what prompted students who had visited the museum to send hand-written letters to Maltz Museum co-founder Milton and Tamar Maltz describing how they too faced discrimination in their lives and how they wanted to help stop the hate. As the personal stories continued to pour in, the contest was born.
Rooted in the Jewish value of respect for all humanity, the Maltz Museum is proud that it continues to give young people of all faiths and backgrounds a platform to speak out in support of inclusion and diversity. Typically, the top ten junior and seniors read their essays before an audience of approximately 600 guests, and winners are named live on stage, but because of COVID-19, this year’s plan had to change.
On Thursday, May 14 at 10:00 AM, the public can visit www.maltzmuseum.org to meet the top 25 finalists in a group video, see who wins the big prize, and read all the finalists’ essays. Plus, the public is encouraged to share these good-news stories with friends and family.
“When one person is lifted up, we all rise,” said Fisher. “We hope all of Northeast Ohio tunes in and shares the good these kids are doing in our community.”