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Teen Meet the Filmmakers of 9500 Liberty before lobbying on Capitol Hill

December 6, 2010

On Sunday, November 14, 73 teens met with the filmmakers and featured characters of the documentary 9500 Liberty at the first screening for a teen audience. The teens were in Washington, DC to participate in a Panim el Panim seminar by the PANIM Institute of BBYO. They had the opportunity to view the film and then meet and ask questions of Annabel Park and Eric Byler, the directors and producers of the film, and Elena Schlossberg one of the film’s featured characters.

The screening of 9500 Liberty was the kick off event for four days of programming focused on service and advocacy training. While in Washington, in addition to training sessions on lobbying and advocacy skill training they will also meet with homeless people in a program called Faces of Homelessness with the National Coalition of the Homeless, serve at local community centers and attend the ADL’s Concert Against Hate at the Kennedy Center.

All of these activities were to prepare the teens for their trip to Capitol Hill on Wednesday, November 17, where they met with the Offices of their local Congressional Representative. They met with Senator Roland Burris (D-IL), Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Representative Diana DeGette (D-CO), Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), Senator Kirstein Gillibrand (D-NY), Representative Tim Holden (D-PA), Representative Mark Kirk (R-IL), Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Senator Mark Udall (D-CO). This meeting was an opportunity for the teens to lobby and advocate on the issues they care most about.

“So many of the issues we bring to our Panim el Panim students can feel remote or theoretical. This opportunity to bring the students into direct conversation with the filmmakers and the “characters” of 9500 Liberty shows how real people are affected by an issue - - and how easily a small group of people can influence politics. 9500 Liberty is a film about standing up for what you believe in, for being willing to speak out when no one else is, to “be a righteous person where there aren’t any righteous people” (Pirkei Avot 2:6) precisely what we try to teach the teens who come to Panim el Panim.”

Since 1988, 16,000 teens from 200 communities have participated in Panim el Panim. Each seminar brings together diverse groups of 10th-12th grade students from around the country and enables teens to take home a new knowledge of advocacy and service.

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