WESTON, Conn. – After experiencing hatred first-hand, Julia Weisman, a 16-year-old sophomore at Weston High School, became a teen trainer with the Connecticut Anti-Defamation League’s Confronting Anti-Semitism program, which conducts workshops with synagogues, Jewish camps and youth groups.
She is one of 14 teen trainers who received a top Movers and Shakers of 2012 Award from the Connecticut Jewish Ledger, which highlights Jewish leaders around the state.
Julia first experienced anti-Semitism when she was 11 near her grandmother’s home in Florida. “My mom and I were walking in the community and my mom looked at the ground and saw swastikas,” Julia said. “I didn’t know what they were. But she told me it was a Nazi figure, and I got scared and frightened."
She also said she experienced anti-Semitism as a 15-year-old in Weston but didn’t want to comment on it.
As a teen trainer, Julia “meets with younger kids and brings them together,” she said. “We share our stories, and I tell them what they can do when they’re in a situation: They can tell a parent or teacher,” Julia said. “I don’t want them to go through the same experience as I did, but if they do they should know how to deal with it."
She discusses anti-Semitism and bullying, including experiences in schools and buses as well as cyberbullying online and via cell phones, according to Cantor Sharon Citrin, a coordinator at the Anti-Defamation League of Connecticut.
“Teen trainers have the experience and present their stories at workshops that serve as role models for leadership and empowerment,” Citrin said.
Julia has played violin since she was 4 and is a member of the Weston High School Symphony Orchestra. She also visits Hurlbutt Elementary School to present violin music to students, counsels a Weston girl with autism and is a member of the Weston High tennis team.