Edmonton teens enjoy talk with influencer Caroline D’Amore

Caroline D'Amore with teens in Edmonton.

by Regan Treewater-Lipes

(AJNews) – “I am a supporter of Zionism,” stated influencer and businesswoman Caroline D’Amore in a recent interview with the Alberta Jewish News in the lobby of Ed’s Rec Room at the West Edmonton Mall. “The world’s Jews have a right to a homeland, and they’re entitled to defend themselves,” she continued emphatically. D’Amore, the daughter of a successful pizza entrepreneur is no stranger to the limelight of social media, but her recent, and unapologetic support of Israel has been met with harsh criticism from some of her supporters.

“I’ve had people I considered friends ‘unfriend’ me and stop talking to me completely,” she noted. “Maybe one day I’ll reconnect with them, but for the now, my time is valuable, and I can’t waste it on people who are unwilling to engage in constructive dialogue,” the thirty-nine-year-old Californian shared.

After a speaking engagement at Concordia University in Montreal, D’Amore visited Edmonton by invitation of JNF. Although she gave a well-attended public talk to the wider community, the night prior D’Amore took the opportunity to engage with some of the most vulnerable Jews in town – those experiencing bullying and prejudice at school just for being Jewish. “Kids are innocent, and we as adults need to protect them. We also have a collective responsibility to teach them about being responsible online, and from what I’m hearing, this is where a lot of youth are being harassed by antisemitism right now.”

Following a wonderful Sunday evening of bowling, BBYO teens sat down for pizza with the Malibu ‘pizza princess,’ and recent contestant on Gordon Ramsey’s Food Stars, to have a very candid conversation about the antisemitism they have been feeling surge in their lives. A bit bashful at first, the teens began to confide in D’Amore about some of the hate-fueled encounters they have been on the receiving end of. D’Amore listened thoughtfully and tried to brainstorm ideas for coping and bridgebuilding. “I’m about bridgebuilding and fostering positive dialogues” she said.  “Each of you has the right to feel safe where you learn, and it breaks my heart that this isn’t the case.”

D’Amore recently traveled to Israel for the first time and was moved to visit with survivors of the October 7 unprovoked carnage orchestrated against the Jewish people. “I was speechless honestly. What do you say to people who have seen such horrors and to those who have kidnapped family being held hostage?  There are no words I think, but I do hope I could give them some comfort.” D’Amore continued: “I was especially interested to learn more about the IDF.  I have been bombarded with propaganda, as we all have, and I wanted to understand better.”  D’Amore, an unabashed high school drop out is a strong proponent of learning through listening, and the value of first-hand storytelling. “I met IDF soldiers, and I listened to their very human stories, and these are people who just want safety for their families. They want to defend their country, rightfully, and then go home to their loved ones.”

Regardless of one’s opinions surrounding the recent ‘influencer’ trend and the unbridled power wielded by voices belonging to those not necessarily qualified to speak authoritatively to the masses, Caroline D’Amore is one of the good guys.  She is honest and sincere with her message and has no patience for hate.  After voicing her support for Israel, D’Amore’s first post was met with six million views overnight. “I have compassion for anybody innocent who is suffering,” she commented.  “I am the first to admit that I didn’t really understand antisemitism before October 7. I knew the Holocaust happened, and I knew that there were tensions in Israel, but I was by no means knowledgeable.  After October 7, I just couldn’t understand society’s treatment of its Jewish population – the blatant prejudice. It took seeing antisemitism explode around the world for me to understand.”

D’Amore finished off her talk with the BBYO teens with a heartfelt offer to hear their stories, and those in attendance seemed to enjoy the event immensely. Many admitted they were not acquainted with the California cyber-celebrity previously, but many vowed to become avid followers.

Regan Treewater-Lipes is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

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