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October 20, 2014 / 26 Tishri, 5775
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Evesham School Board Member Quits over ‘J Word’ Scandal

“I’m very happy she made the right decision for the community,” said the School Board President.
Happier days: Evesham school board members meeting with NJ Congressman Robert E. Andrews' staff. Rosemary Bernardi is third from the left.

Happier days: Evesham school board members meeting with NJ Congressman Robert E. Andrews' staff. Rosemary Bernardi is third from the left.
Photo Credit: Facebook

Rosemary Bernardi, a school board member from Evesham resigned Thursday, saying the uproar over what many perceived as her antisemitic comments had become a distraction for the school district, the Courier-Post reports.

“This local issue has become a distraction for the board to fulfill its mission, which is to provide our students with an educational foundation, in a safe, caring, supportive environment through a cooperative partnership with parents and community,” Bernardi wrote in her letter of resignation.

She also stepped down from her position of vice president with the New Jersey School Boards Association.

Evesham School Board President, aptly named Sandy Student, told the Courier-Post Bernardi resignation came under strong public pressure, which made her lose her ability to do her job properly.

“I’m very happy she made the right decision for the community,” said Student.

Jewish Press reader Carrie Lieberstein who lives in the area objected to The Jewish Press original report on the Bernardi affair, which started with a school board discussion of moving the first day of the next school year from Friday, Sept. 6, to Monday, Sept. 9, because the 6th coincides with the second day of the two-day Jewish holiday, Rosh Hashanah. Bernardi allegedly said that, since the board was comprised of 5 Jews and only 3 non-Jews, the vote was going to come out along ethnic lines – which it did.

In a talkback, Lieberstein wrote: “She humiliated Jewish school board members by addressing an election topic. She stated. ‘There are five Jewish seats and three open seats.’ Why did she have to draw attention to their religious/ethnic Jewish identities?”

Lieberstein, who said he had been instrumental in bringing the Anti Defamation League to the case, added: “Ms. Bernardi resigned today and the ADL informed me of this.”

Evesham resident Sue Wilder has been asking for Bernardi’s resignation since last month. She also filed an ethics complaint against Bernardi, according to the Courier-Post.

Others, like Evesham resident David Thompson, said that Bernardi’s comments were taken out of context.

“Something reprehensible happened that night,” he said of the May 23 meeting. “The reprehensible action was that five board members voted to change the schedule, after voting for it twice before.”

In a separate talkback, after accusing The Jewish Press of taking lightly that which is a very meaningful concern for the Jewish residents of Evesham, Liberstein advises: “By the way, it’s always okay to admit that perhaps you made a mistake. Humility is a good thing.”

I must say, living in a Jewish state, surrounded by nothing but Jews most of the time, it is possible that I’ve forgotten the more brittle quality of Jewish life in diasporah, and so I certainly apologize for that, especially if my callousness hurt a reader’s feelings.

I also have to say, it’s fun living in a Jewish state, surrounded by nothing but Jews most of the time.

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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7 Responses to “Evesham School Board Member Quits over ‘J Word’ Scandal”

  1. Gil Gilman says:

    ;-)

  2. Roy Gordon says:

    did I miss something……:-0

  3. Anonymous says:

    5 FAIRHILL RD. EDISON NJ 08817 732 572 2766.

    REGARDING ROSEMARY BERNARDI.

    IF one can prove she is truly anti-Semitic then she should be dismissed from all her positions. Does she have such a history? I have successfully fought against people who wanted to get rid of Rosh Hashanah as a day off from school several times in the past. However, to publicly label someone as an anti-Semite one needs to have substantial proof. Insensitive, yes. Misspoken, yes. Is she truly an anti-Semite or was she angry about the whole issue of holidays off for one religion and not another..The reason I am commenting from Edison, NJ , is because I have more experience than most. Twice I was successful in keeping Rosh Hashanah in the school calendar. Many have consulted with me. This area has seen a major demographic change with people from many religious backgrounds asking for school closings. While I would advise Jews to fight for Rosh Hashanah closing, the reality is that the population is changing. It makes sense that people on the Board of Ed would fight for days off for their own religious holidays.While I think Ms. Bernardi showed a lack of sensitivity to Jewish people, I feel her expression was more out of anger than anti-Semitism. If it was up to me I would do away with all holiday cancellation of classes and create a 5 year calendar with alternating religious holiday cancellations. RABB DR. BERNHARD ROSENBERG

  4. Anonymous says:

    REGARDING ROSEMARY BERNARDI.

    IF one can prove she is truly anti-Semitic then she should be dismissed from all her positions. Does she have such a history? I have successfully fought against people who wanted to get rid of Rosh Hashanah as a day off from school several times in the past. However, to publicly label someone as an anti-Semite one needs to have substantial proof. Insensitive, yes. Misspoken, yes. Is she truly an anti-Semite or was she angry about the whole issue of holidays off for one religion and not another..The reason I am commenting from Edison, NJ , is because I have more experience than most. Twice I was successful in keeping Rosh Hashanah in the school calendar. Many have consulted with me. This area has seen a major demographic change with people from many religious backgrounds asking for school closings. While I would advise Jews to fight for Rosh Hashanah closing, the reality is that the population is changing. It makes sense that people on the Board of Ed would fight for days off for their own religious holidays.While I think Ms. Bernardi showed a lack of sensitivity to Jewish people, I feel her expression was more out of anger than anti-Semitism. If it was up to me I would do away with all holiday cancellation of classes and create a 5 year calendar with alternating religious holiday cancellations.
    TRY reading my other comments before attacking. I have three below for you to read. IF SHE is an anti-Semite SHE DESERVES WHAT HAPPENED. If she created a bias crime lock her up. IF SHE IS AN ANGRY WOMAN WHO said inappropriate and vile things she should and was asked to leave the board. To call her anti-Semitic MEANS that those who voted for her in the past must have seen this and voted for an anti-Semite. THIS IS THE QUESTION. Is she or is she not an anti-Semite. I have heard similar phrases come from the mouths of elected officials WHO BECAME ANGRY BECAUSE THEY DID NOT GET THEIR WAY AND THERE WERE JEWISH MEMBERS OF THE board involved. We did not label them anti-Semitic. I am not naïve nor new to politics. Do we have to create human beings to dislike JEWS BY GIVING INDIVIDUALS THE IMPRESSION WE CONTROL VOTES AND IDEAS AND SOLUTIONS. I HAVE FOUGHT plenty of anti-SEMITES IN MY TIME AND MY REPUTATION FOR STANDING UP for the JEWISH PEOPLE IS WELL KNOWN.SEE THE INTERNET AND MY YOU TUBES. I have also seen and heard people get up at meetings and say horrible things about, ASIANS, PEOPLE OF COLOR ETC. I WAS ASKED TO COMMENT OF THE SITUATION BY FRIENDS OF HERS IN OUR COMMUNITY. I served as chairman of the human rights commission for ten years. I am certain the Jewish members of the board are honorable people and felt Judaism was being attacked. Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg

  5. Anonymous says:

    Bernhard Rosenberg

    I am disappointed that by now she did not offer a warmer apology and do not understand why she has not commented in these discussions. I DO NOT KNOW HER AND MAYBE SOME OF YOU ARE CORRECT AND I WAS WRONG. I have spoken to her twice asking why did she resign and suggesting she make an apology with more conviction regarding her statements which can be interpreted as anti-Semitic. I stuck my head out hoping she would apologize with conviction. IF I was on the board and was convinced she was anti-Semitic I WOULD have ACTED IN THE SAME WAY. I DO NOT UNDERSTAND AFTER ALL MY ATTEMPTS WHY SHE DID NOT TRY AND CALM DOWN THE SITUATION. WE DO NOT NEED ILL FEELINGS BETWEEN JEWS AND NON-JEWS. I apologize to all if I WAS wrong. I never back down from a fight to support Jews but I also try to mend fences especially when asked. RABBI DR. BERNHARD ROSENBERG

  6. Anonymous says:

    Bernhard Rosenberg

    I am disappointed that by now she did not offer a warmer apology and do not understand why she has not commented in these discussions. I DO NOT KNOW HER AND MAYBE SOME OF YOU ARE CORRECT AND I WAS WRONG. I have spoken to her twice asking why did she resign and suggesting she make an apology with more conviction regarding her statements which can be interpreted as anti-Semitic. I stuck my head out hoping she would apologize with conviction. IF I was on the board and was convinced she was anti-Semitic I WOULD have ACTED IN THE SAME WAY. I DO NOT UNDERSTAND AFTER ALL MY ATTEMPTS WHY SHE DID NOT TRY AND CALM DOWN THE SITUATION. WE DO NOT NEED ILL FEELINGS BETWEEN JEWS AND NON-JEWS. I apologize to all if I WAS wrong. I never back down from a fight to support Jews but I also try to mend fences especially when asked. RABBI DR. BERNHARD ROSENBERG

  7. Anonymous says:

    Bernhard Rosenberg

    I am disappointed that by now she did not offer a warmer apology and do not understand why she has not commented in these discussions. I DO NOT KNOW HER AND MAYBE SOME OF YOU ARE CORRECT AND I WAS WRONG. I have spoken to her twice asking why did she resign and suggesting she make an apology with more conviction regarding her statements which can be interpreted as anti-Semitic. I stuck my head out hoping she would apologize with conviction. IF I was on the board and was convinced she was anti-Semitic I WOULD have ACTED IN THE SAME WAY. I DO NOT UNDERSTAND AFTER ALL MY ATTEMPTS WHY SHE DID NOT TRY AND CALM DOWN THE SITUATION. WE DO NOT NEED ILL FEELINGS BETWEEN JEWS AND NON-JEWS. I apologize to all if I WAS wrong. I never back down from a fight to support Jews but I also try to mend fences especially when asked. RABBI DR. BERNHARD ROSENBERG

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