This story originally appeared in the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle, with which the Pittsburgh Union Progress collaborated to cover the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting trial.
The Eradicate Hate Global Summit returns to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center from Wednesday-Friday, Sept. 27-29.
The summit, billed as “the world’s most comprehensive anti-hate conference,” will feature more than 300 participants over three days. Antisemitism, hate against the LGBTQ+ community, the rise of far-right groups in Central and Eastern Europe, the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, violent extremism, video games, financial systems and youth red flags are among the many topics that will be discussed.
Keynote speakers include Alejandro Mayorkas, secretary of the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security; Neil Potts, president of public policy at Meta; Holocaust survivor and author Inge Auerbacher; and CBS News chief national affairs and justice correspondent Jeff Pegues.
Summit founder and co-Chair Laura Ellsworth, partner-in-charge of Global Community Service Initiatives at Jones Day, conceived the convention as a reaction to the 2018 Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. It grew beyond that single incident, though, and, from the first summit in 2021, challenged and examined various forms of hate.
“We knew this problem extended beyond the borders of Pittsburgh,” Ellsworth said. “We wanted to be able to prevent this kind of violence, whether it happened in our community or in anybody else’s community.”
Nonetheless, she noted that much of the work being done globally through the conference is informed by what is being done locally.
“We unfortunately understand this better than many communities that have not yet had that experience,” she said. “All of the work being done locally is included in a variety of ways in the summit.”
To that end, the first day will feature a plenary session called “Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting Trial: Claiming our Voices in the Judicial Process.” Maggie Feinstein, director of the 10.27 Healing Partnership, will moderate a discussion including survivor Audrey Glickman; Jodi Kart, whose father, Mel Wax, was murdered in the attack; Amy Mallinger, granddaughter of Rose Mallinger, who was murdered during the shooting; and first responder Officer Timothy Matson, who was injured in the attack.
That session as well as one titled “Survivors in Action” represent a central theme of the summit: to ensure the community is remembered not for the hate that happened here but its response to it, Ellsworth said.
“Too often, voices of the victims are not included in prevention — are not included in response — in the way we think they should be and the way the field needs them to be,” she said. “Through their lived experiences, [they] understand these issues better than any academic who studied them, or any professional who works on them, because they lived them.”
Co-Chair Mark Nordenberg, the University of Pittsburgh’s chancellor emeritus and chair of its Institute of Politics, said that many community members are committed to doing what they can to make something good come out of the shooting.
“Everybody seems to be looking to the future and saying, ‘What can we do to minimize the likelihood that this will happen to other people?’” said Nordenberg, who has worked with Ellsworth since the first summit.
The summit, he said, has proved the success of its concept. Part of that achievement can be seen in the working groups created last year to toil within various aspects of the anti-hate field, including higher education and sports.
Some of the summaries of the work done by those groups will be presented on the first day of the conference in the plenary “The Summit Responds.”
“I think that the people that come this year will see that progress has been made on a number of important fronts,” he said.
The growing influence of the summit can be seen in the outgrowth of the sports working group, which was started last year and includes Michele Rosenthal, sister of Cecil and David Rosenthal, who were murdered in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. The sports working group held a convening event at the stadium of the Liverpool Football Club in Anfield, England, Ellsworth said.
“All of the Premier League teams came, Formula One came, rugby came, lawn tennis came, FIFA and a number of NGOs all came to that event,” she said.
Ellsworth said Eradicate Hate worked with the United Nations on the event.
Another convening event occurred in Boston as summit leaders teamed with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft’s Foundation to Combat Antisemitism.
“The work that we have done is being woven into many other places, on a national and international level,” Ellsworth said.
A new event this year is a high school summit on Thursday. That event was inspired by the reaction of South Allegheny School District students who came to the summit, watched the documentary “Repairing the World: Stories From the Tree of Life” and part of the “Not in our Town” PBS series, and were so motivated that they went back to their school and created an Eradicate Hate club, Nordenberg said.
“The lesson we learned,” he explained, “is that if you empower students by exposing them to some of the tools they might use, you might be surprised at the good they will do.”
This year, Nordenberg expects there to be 15 school districts participating, including students and faculty, totaling about 200 people at the high school summit.
There will be some changes in the Eradicate Hate Global Summit organization this year, as well.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh formerly served as the fiscal agent of the summit and provided other forms of support. The summit has now created a nonprofit corporation, Nordenberg said, receiving both state and federal tax-exempt status.
The change, he said, means that the organization can now approach foundations and philanthropists for funding and can apply for government grants.
As part of the change, Charles H. Moellenberg was named president of the new nonprofit.
“Chuck,” as many know him, said facetiously that he decided to get more involved with the organization because retirement wasn’t helping his golf game. In reality, Moellenberg said he was excited about working with Ellsworth, whom he knew from his time as a partner at Jones Day.
“I knew that when she gets behind an enterprise, it’s going to be a success,” he said.
The summit, he said, is the most comprehensive multidisciplinary conference in the anti-hate field.
“We are working in partnership with the United Nations, the OECD [Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development], the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and other organizations there,” he said. “We are working with the Christchurch Call, which is based in New Zealand and came out of that horrific massacre.”
He said he’s humbled by how much the conference has already accomplished and is looking forward to the third summit.
Ellsworth, too, is excited about the work the Eradicate Hate Global Summit continues to do.
“It was our dream that the summit would become the centrifugal force for the most talented people in the world,” she said. “If you look at the evolution over time and you look at the leadership of the working groups, they are working tirelessly on goals that we have identified and that no one organization could do.
“My greatest joy,” she continued, “is what is reflected in this year’s summit: hundreds of people from around the world committed in a very real way to achieve these goals together. That commonality of interest and purpose is what this was built to achieve.”