USC Shoah Foundation Holds Gala to Stem the Epidemic of Hate

Managing Partner Sam Pond does not only fight for his clients, but he also fights against hate crimes. As a part of his support for education, Sam and his wife attended the USC Shoah Foundation’s Ambassadors for Humanity Gala in Los Angeles early November. The foundation aims to combat hate by developing “empathy, understanding and respect through testimony.”

Sponsored by Pond Lehocky Stern Giordano, the event funds the foundation and its Stronger Than Hate initiative, which seeks to support educators by providing tools and training to engage students on the causes of hate-based violence. Sam was Vice Chair of the event. He also serves on the board of the foundation’s Next Generation Committee.

The event came at a time when hate crimes are on the rise across the country.  In October, a gunman targeting Jews killed 11 worshippers and wounded another six at a Pittsburgh synagogue. It was the latest in a series of hate crimes tearing the county apart. The Washington Post reported Oct. 29 that, the number of anti-Semitic incidents, in particular, has risen significantly over the last couple of years.

Husband-and-wife duo Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks were honored at the event for their work on humanitarian causes. Comedian Martin Short hosted the event, which also featured a guest appearance by Oprah Winfrey and a musical performance by Melissa Etheridge.

Also honored at the event was teacher Ivy Schaims, who received the inaugural Stronger Than Hate Educator award. She was teaching her Holocaust studies class at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., when a gunman opened fire in the school, killing 17 students, including two in Schaims’ classroom.

The USC Shoah Foundation — The Institute for Visual History and Education was founded in 1994 by Steven Spielberg with the aim of combating hate through testimony. Its mission is to record interviews with victims and other witnesses of the Holocaust and other genocides to educate and spur action. According to its website, the organization has more than 55,000 video testimonies in its archive.

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