Yoav Lester | Melbourne, Australia | 31 years old

Tell us in a few words about yourself.

I am a 31 year old filmmaker. I was born in Sydney, grew up in Melbourne. My parents were born in Sydney. Both my grandfathers were survivors from Lodz, Poland. One grandma is from Morocco and the other was from UK, previously Romania/Ukraine.

 

If you have experienced antisemitism in your country, how was it expressed?

Yes. I hadn’t attended a Jewish school besides prep. In 2000, grade 7, around the time of my bar mitzvah, I was at an all boys school and I was found out to be the only Jew in grade 7 and 8. I got beaten up 3-4 times a week by many people. Maybe it was because I happened to be the odd one out. Either way, it was a confusing time. I have had quite a few experiences since.

 

What do you feel is the most productive way to fight hate?

Education! Also, to always look at it in the face, through the eyes, into the soul.

 

What message would you like to relay to young Jews throughout the world who are worried about antisemitism?

Study as much as you can about history. Read and learn individual stories and perspectives. Find the patterns. Educate and be patient with those who haven’t met a Jew. Don’t be scared, be smart. Never run. Never be silent. Never be a victim. Take responsibility!

 

What message do you have for those marching in the “March of the living”?

Talk to the Polish youth! Learn about the history of the Jews in Poland, the good and the bad. Don’t hold the 3rd or 4th generation accountable for the sins of their ancestors. Rather, find a way to bridge the gap with information.
I visit Poland as much as I can to pay respects to my ancestors in the ground. I have found that the young Poles don’t all subscribe to some of their grandparents/great grandparents prior sins and are willing to learn! Study the pains of Polish history and find a place of empathy and information to engage in positive discourse to bridge the 40 previous generations of Jews who flourished within Poland from the beginning of their history.

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