Miriam Weisman says there’s always a story behind why people become actively involved with the Anti-Defamation League. Here’s her story: About 14 years ago, Weisman saw a review in a local newspaper about a baseball movie titled “The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg.” While reading, she came across the reviewer’s assessment: “If you like baseball and you like Jews, you’ll love this movie.” “I went wild,” Weisman says. “I called him and said ‘Can you imagine if you were writing a review about "Remember the Titans" and said, “If you like football and you like black people, you’re going to love this movie?” What do you think the reaction would be?’ ”
After calling the reviewer’s editor and seeking help from her rabbi, Weisman spearheaded an email blast to try to combat the reviewer’s words. “It didn’t do anything, but at least I felt better having tried,” she says.
Shortly after the incident, Weisman met a woman who was on the regional ADL board and told her the story. The woman invited Weisman to a meeting. “And that was it,” she says. Weisman joined the regional board in 2002 and eventually served as board president from 2008 to 2014. She is currently vice chair of the National ADL Regional Operations and Education committees and a member of its National Executive Committee.
Weisman and her husband, Jim, owners of Republic West Remodeling, will chair the April 26 Valley of the Sun Jewish Community Center “Fore!” the Kids golf tournament (see details box). “It’s a nice way for us to spread our wings in the Jewish community,” she says. “We’ve been really lucky in our lives, and doing this kind of work is what we feel we need to do.” The tournament’s proceeds will provide scholarships for children’s programming, summer camp and family memberships at VOSJCC.
A former educator, Weisman taught in Chicago and worked locally at Arcadia High School as a tech specialist after moving to the Valley in 1995. She facilitates and participates in many ADL educational programs, including the organization’s umbrella initiative No Place for Hate, anti-bias trainings for students in preschool through high school, to empower teachers, educators, child-care givers and families to take a stand against hate. These programs include Becoming an Ally/Cyber Alley, an anti-bullying program that starts in fifth grade; an anti-bias peer training program for high school sophomores and juniors who then work with freshmen conducting anti-bias activities; Confronting Anti-Semitism, for sixth-graders and up; Words to Action, a program for high school juniors and seniors, as well as college students; and Echoes and Reflection, a Holocaust education program for high school and middle school teachers developed by the Shoah Foundation. Weisman has also mentored new ADL regional board chairs, giving them one-to-one guidance.
Through her work with ADL, Weisman has become engaged in other human- and civil-rights causes. She’s actively involved with the Human Rights Campaign, a civil-rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. Last year, she was part of HRC’s coalition, “Why Marriage Matters Arizona,” representing ADL. She also participates in the Latino-Jewish Dialogue and worked with the Latino community to fight Arizona SB1070. “We were right there walking hand in hand with the Latino community because it was discrimination,” she says. “We’re so much stronger when we fight together.”
For Weisman, her work on behalf of civil and human rights goes back a long way. “I was a hippie, so that really fueled my sense of justice and injustice. The work that I do now is just a vehicle to be able to put forth the ideals that I’ve held all my life.”
What: ‘Fore!’ the Kids Golf Tournament
Who: Valley of the Sun Jewish Community Center
When: 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, April 28
Where: Gainey Ranch Golf Club, 7600 E. Gainey Club Drive, Scottsdale
Cost: $250 per person; $900 foursome
Register: Harriet Colan, 480-483-7121, ext. 1213.