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The two of them had traveled together from Ohio to the inaugural march in Washington on a bus with several dozen strangers, and now many of those women gathered again in Columbus for a small reunion a few hours before the march. “What a transformative, empowering year,” Radebaugh said to the group, because one of the women from that bus ride had become a Democratic fundraiser, another had started volunteering for reproductive rights, another had joined the board of the local Pride parade, and two more were running for seats in the Ohio House of Representatives. Crooks had yet to officially launch her campaign, but Mary Relotto had already raised $20,000, knocked on thousands of doors and filed all of her paperwork. She was scheduled to give a kickoff speech in Columbus, and now she asked Crooks whether she would be willing to share her story about Trump during the march.

“You are an inspiration to me,” Relotto told her, “I want to champion you, to champion each other, Your voice and your story in this is huge.”, “Thank you,” Crooks said, “I don’t always feel that way, but -”, “It’s huge, So let me ask you: Do you want to engage with the people?”, “I don’t know, This feels more like your moment.”, “Thank you, but the people need to see a face, You have a powerful story, It’s little girl ballet shoes with ribbons up to you how far you want to take it, What do you want to do?”..

It was the same question Crooks’ sister had asked over the phone that morning in 2006, minutes after Trump got onto his elevator and Crooks retreated back to an empty office at Bayrock to call home. “What do you want to do?” her sister had asked, and together they had gone through the options. Report the harassment to building security guards who wore Trump’s name on their uniforms? Tell her managers at Bayrock, where Trump was a key business partner? Confide in Bayrock’s founder, Tevfik Arif, a personal friend of Trump and his wife, Melania?.

The only thing she could think to do instead of reporting it was go quietly back to her desk for the afternoon and then back to the rental house to tell Hackenburg, Maybe she had done something to encourage Trump, she said, Maybe she wasn’t coming across as smart, serious or professional, “Her self-confidence was absolutely rocked,” Hackenburg said, She didn’t think of it as a tragedy, She had gone on to graduate school in Ohio, bought a home close to her family, in the nearby town of Tiffin, and begun a career that allowed her to travel around the world, but she also believed some small part of her had never come back from New York, “It was one of the first real failures or defeats of my life, where the world wasn’t little girl ballet shoes with ribbons what I hoped it was going to be, and I started to really doubt myself,” she said..

For several years she had barely told anybody about Trump, because she assumed nothing would come of her story. Now she had spent 18 months repeating it and proving herself right. “I am not sure I’ve changed one person’s mind,” she said. But what choice did she have, except to let it go silent as if it never happened at all? She didn’t want to retreat anymore from that moment, to cycle back into self-doubt. So she would go on television. She would speak at the news conferences. She would deal with the hate mail. She would run for office. She would repeat her story over and over whenever she was asked, even now, to a few women in Columbus marching alongside her in the snow.

Active tolerance is the top theme at the 23rd Annual East Bay International Jewish Film Festival, Opening March 1 at Orinda Theatre in Orinda and continuing for 10 days at Century 16 in Pleasant Hill before little girl ballet shoes with ribbons winding up in Livermore with three days at Vine Cinema, the hyper-mobile festival is anything but passive, While past film collections have explored anti-Semitism, the Holocaust and other stories primarily reflecting Jewish experiences and perspectives, this year’s docket displays a global focus, In documentaries, biopics, comedies, short- and feature-length movies, the approximately 39 films selected by committee from roughly 120 submissions deliver a stand up, say-no-to-hate-everywhere message..

Marginalization doesn’t belong to one ethnicity, race or social class, but is a terrible problem of contemporary times, suggests Festival Director Riva Gambert in an interview. “We wanted to do something to emphasize the need to be more civil and more aware that many people are being what I call “otherwise-d,”  People who have been marginalized or stigmatized across the globe are reflected in films that deal with many groups of people. We thought it was especially important now because the tone in conversations has ratcheted up.”.

Furthermore, being complicit by walking past someone suffering prejudice or being a bystander, is no longer to be tolerated, she says, An individual’s duty may not be to jump into a lake to save someone, but it might be to call 911, “We all have the ability little girl ballet shoes with ribbons to make small changes for the better,” Gambert says, Of course, the festival’s tradition of presenting films with substance doesn’t preclude there being room for jolly laughter and entertainment, Opening night’s “Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me,” dances from lively portrayal of the Black, Jewish, Puerto Rican performer on stage to darker scenes illustrating the racism he endured..

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