The Enlighten America Essay Contest for middle school students sponsored by the Achim/Gate City Lodge of B’nai B’rith International encourages respect and tolerance of our friends’ and neighbors’ diverse religious beliefs and racial/cultural backgrounds.

Vic Anapolle, the coordinator of the essay contest, stated that B’nai B’rith encourages responsibility and mutual respect for the differences in all people. “If we accept the premise that all people are special, we’re better able to accept individual differences.”

This Essay Contest required students to reflect on the concepts of tolerance, equality, and respect for all people, as viewed by the founders of our country. The contest stresses civic harmony over violence and equality over prejudice. To participate, middle school students (grades 6-8) wrote about the significance of the contest theme – respect for our diversity in race, religion, national origin, gender, disability, and sexual orientation – by thinking about the issues of bigotry and prejudice, and how such issues have (or have not) been addressed in recent years.

More than 50 entries were received by the April 12th deadline. Our appreciation to our distinguished panel of judges: RuthE Levy, Margie Simonoff, and Marcus Brodzki.

RuthE Levy, the owner of And Thou Shalt Read bookstore, stated, “All of the essays were amazing. They showed the depth of thought and the variety of concerns these young people have, even at this early age. I was very impressed. And it was so hard to choose a winner because there were so many good ones! Congratulations to the winners and to all who participated.”

Marjorie Simonoff shared, “Initially, I felt somewhat overwhelmed at this very busy time for me when I received 52 essays instead of the 10 or 12, we expected. But as I began to read through them, I got caught up in the material and was so happy that so many youngsters were given an opportunity to reflect upon and write about this most important subject, which has such relevance in today’s world.”

Marcus Brodzki, a representative with Israel Bonds, shared, “I was impressed by the depth of feeling students demonstrated in their essays. Whether focusing on the bigotry of the past or today’s modern challenges, the students displayed compassion and empathy. They tackled the issues and presented valuable ideas for addressing injustice and bringing our society closer to the ideal that the United States ‘gives bigotry no sanction, to persecution, no assistance’.”

The Achim/Gate City Lodge of B’nai B’rith International is proud to announce the following winners of the 2019 Enlighten America Essay Contest:

1. The First-Place Winner of a $750 prize is Anna Schwartz of Atlanta, Georgia for her essay, Subconscious Biases: The Elephant in the Room. Anna is 13 years old and in 7th Grade at Woodward Academy.

First-Place Winner Anna Schwartz of Atlanta, Georgia


2. The Second-Place Winner of a $500 prize is Jackson Weatherill of Marietta, Georgia for his essay, Diversity. Jack is 13 years old and in 7th Grade at Temple Kol Emeth.

Second-Place Winner Jackson Weatherill of Marietta, Georgia


3. The Third-Place Winner of a $250 prize is Aiden Robinson of Woodstock, Georgia for his essay Am I Safe?. Aiden is 14 years old and in 8th Grade at Woodward Academy.

Third-Place Winner Aiden Robinson of Woodstock, Georgia

Additionally, a $500 award will be made to Woodward Academy, the first-place winner’s school. Certificates and checks will be presented to the students at the award ceremonies scheduled at Woodward Academy on May 23 (10 AM) and at Temple Kol Emeth on May 24 (8 pm).   <Photos from Awards Ceremonies>

The 2019 Enlighten America Essay Contest is a volunteer community service project brought to you by the Achim/Gate City Lodge of B’nai B’rith International and is jointly sponsored by businesses, organizations and individual members of the Achim/Gate City Lodge of B’nai B’rith. We thank our 2019 Enlighten America sponsors for their generosity and support (listed online page 7). Businesses and schools interested in sponsoring or participating in the 2020 Enlighten America contest may contact Harry Lutz at

The 2019 Enlighten America Essay Contest is dedicated in memory of Art Link, a long time B’nai B’rith member and leader who brought this essay contest to Atlanta several years ago. Art passed away suddenly in November 2018. Over many years, Art contributed significantly to the community through B’nai B’rith and other organizations and networking groups. He is greatly missed.

Art Link, long time B’nai B’rith member and founder of local Enlighten America contest

About B’nai B’rith

B’nai B’rith International has advocated for global Jewry and championed the cause of human rights since 1843. B’nai B’rith is recognized as a vital voice in promoting Jewish unity and continuity, a staunch defender of the State of Israel, a tireless advocate on behalf of senior citizens and a leader in disaster relief. With a presence around the world, we are the Global Voice of the Jewish Community.

B’nai B’rith International is widely respected as one of the world’s largest Jewish membership organization promoting human rights, community action, and humanitarian efforts. Tikkun Olam is a concept that is an integral part of being Jewish. Loosely translated, it refers to our obligation to repair the world, to make the world a better place in which to live, work and play. What we in BBI do is in keeping with Tikkun Olam.

The B’nai B’rith Achim/Gate City Lodge, established in 1870, is one of the oldest B’nai B’rith lodges in the U.S. At the local level, we organize and promote volunteer community service and social programs, including Pinch HittersEnlighten America, Unto Every Person There is a Name, and Cares for Kids.

This post has been contributed by a third party. The opinions, facts and any media content are presented solely by the author, and Atlanta Jewish Connector assumes no responsibility for them. Want to add your voice to the conversation? Publish your own post here.