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.