L.A. Junior Hockey Team Tours Museum of Tolerance

May 10, 2019
Photo from Flickr.

The Los Angeles Junior Kings, which had members and coaches of their team suspended for an anti-Semitic video in March, toured the Museum of Tolerance on May 5.

Los Angeles Times columnist Helene Elliott wrote May 8 that those who attended the tour “included coaches, team leaders, members of the under-14 bantam AAA team who participated in the incident, and players who weren’t involved,” where they met Holocaust survivor Amrom Deutsch.

Liebe Geft, director of the Museum of Tolerance, told the Journal in a phone interview that the team members meeting with Deutsch “had a profound impression with everyone in the group,” adding that “they found a new hero that day.”

Elliott also noted in her column that the team members engaged in exercises on “the roots of prejudice and why diversity should be celebrated” as part of the Museum of Tolerance’s Champions program. Participants were also taught “to be more discerning in using and contributing to social media and saw exhibits that dealt with racism and social injustice in the U.S. and beyond.”

Geft told the Journal that the participants were “wholly engaged for a very long and intense program” and they were “respectful” and “thoughtful” throughout.

“I think it is fair to say that everyone left with a much greater awareness of the impact and the consequences of what they say and what they do, what they allow to be said around them… and that message of individual choice and personal responsibility and the power of words are powerful themes that permeates all aspects of this museum,” Geft said.

Steve Yotevich, the president of LA Junior Kings, told Elliott, “I don’t think anybody can walk through the doors without being deeply impacted,” adding that the team members received “a deeper understanding of what the Holocaust was and how horrible that period of time was, but also understanding how normal people were led to doing horrible things” from the tour.

Geft said that the Museum of Tolerance is extending an invitation to all junior hockey teams to take part in the Champions program.

“Being a champion is more than winning,” Geft said. “These young people are playing at a formidable level of competition and they have to do so while they’re also leaders and role models and they need to demonstrate excellence in character and emotional intelligence. So yes, being a champion – you have to be a winning player… and you have to be a mensch: a human being of integrity, humility, dedication, commitment, caring, and you have to relate well to others, and this is where the museum comes in.”

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