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Hint of Antisemitism, Hyper PC, in NJ School Board Vote

When did the word "Jews" become verboten?
Evesham, NJ, school board member Rosemary Bernardi

Evesham, NJ, school board member Rosemary Bernardi
Photo Credit: Facebook

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Rosemary Bernardi, a 7-year member of the Evesham, NJ, school board, has issued an apology for remarks she made at the May 23 board meeting that were called insensitive and discriminatory, according to the website South Jersey Local News.

Bernardi emailed the following statement on May 27 to her fellow board members:

“Let me begin by expressing my heartfelt apology to the people of Evesham Township for my remarks at the school board meeting. Categorizing individuals on the basis of their religion, race, gender, or sexual orientation has no place in our society, and most especially in our public discourse.”

It all started, apparently, with a 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.

First of all, like most of you, I’m sure, I have to say I didn’t realize Rosh Hashanah is coming so early this year. Second, it doesn’t look to me like such a big deal, starting school on Monday instead of on Friday. In fact, who starts anything on a Friday? Let the folks—Jews and non-Jews—stay on the shore until Sunday night, like human beings, and then make them drive home in bumper-to-bumper traffic the way God intended.

At the meeting, Bernardi objected to changing the school calendar, because she thought it would affect all the students just in order to accommodate a few students.

But the way Bernardi said it is what got the good people of Evesham all riled up. She has been accused of having singled out those few students by calling them “Jews.”

That’s right. She had the audacity to call students who attend Rosh Hashanah services by the J word.

As a person who has been addressed by that word so many times, I know how it must feel when a public official actually uses it to define an entire group of students. Shocking.

But that was not all. In a May 25 Philadelphia Inquirer article, Bernardi stated that she did mention at the meeting that there were five Jewish members on the board, which is why her attempt to keep school open on Rosh Hashanah “won’t happen on this board because there’s five members of the Jewish faith on this board. They have a majority.”

Incidentally, the school board vote on pushing the calendar to Monday resulted in two gentiles voting against, one gentile abstaining, and five Jews voting for the move.

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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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12 Responses to “Hint of Antisemitism, Hyper PC, in NJ School Board Vote”

  1. Alan Kardon says:

    Wonder if she would find it objectionable if they switched Christmas week off so it would help the traffic flow?

  2. That's actually not what she said- she mentioned that there were 5 Jews on the school board already, and that there was an election pending- suggesting that it might be great to have some non-Jews for the 3 seats to be elected.
    Do a little research….

  3. Carrie Lieberstein says:

    This article is so distorted and offensive that it makes me sick. Yori knows nothing about this community and I was originally from this community. This moronic school board member embarrassed fellow school board members that were Jewish. She didn't call students Jewish. 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? Why didn't you defend the fellow Jewish school board members and Jewish parents and students. You think this is just "tongue and cheek".Oooh, someone used a "J" word in your mind, but you're so out of line. It's not just a hint of antisemitism, it's antisemitism. Get your facts straight before you write garbage like this. This is demeaning and insulting. You're article produces dissension within the Jewish community. You talk about what G-d wants in your op-ed, but maybe you should ask yourself the same question when you don't practice derech eretz. I think you're just as bad as Ms. Bernardi, because you make light of what happened. It's stupid and sick. Please research a topic before you distort and show some compassion towards fellow Jews even if they don't daven at your shul or live in your neighborhood. By the way, the ADL is investigating this matter so they DO take it seriously. This is a shanda!

  4. Yori Yanover says:

    Carrie Lieberstein · First, I wonder if you always set your volume to 11, or you're just happy to see me.

    Next, it still comes down to whether or not a person's mentioning of another's being a Jew amounts to antisemitism. You could be right. Often it has a lot to do with sound, inflection, timing, facial expression, things that don't get reported normally.

    But I'm sensing an entirely other wellspring of resentment there which doesn't seem to match the magnitude of the actual question. You seem to be dragging God and my own entire ethical world into the discussion, which leads me to be concerned.

  5. Larry Zamick says:

    Even the recipes in thr Jewish Press are bad If You Don’t Have Margarine This Pesach, Use…
    Posted on: March 21st, 2013
    Marc Gottlieb
    Food → Recipes
    Mayonnaise. That’s right, you read it correctly. And I’m sure it’s not the first time you’ve read it, either. And the thought of it has probably made you go ‘”blech.” But this is me saying it, so let’s break it down logically, and you’ll see that the idea isn’t as far-fetched as you might think. [...]

  6. Carrie Lieberstein says:

    Yori, you cease to amaze me. So, I'm the one with G-d issues, yet you mentioned G-d in your op-ed. You're beyond enigmatic. I honestly don't care about how you don't or don'r practice Judaism. What troubles me are your ethical values, which you brought up and addressed, regarding this matter. So, in your opinion embarrassing someone because they're Jewish is okay. You like to joke saying "Hey, so someone used the J word". You put so much effort into defending this stupid woman without researching the story. You could have instead said to yourself "Maybe I should defend my fellow Jews for getting upset regarding Ms. Bernardi's comments" but you went in another direction. You see, I don't judge anyone regarding their Jewish beliefs or lack thereof. Yet, I believe that I may be a more ethical person since I defended this community and contacted the ADL on their behalf along with the Jewish Federation of South Jersey. I defended my fellow Jewish brethren because they were victims of antisemitism, not just "hints" of antisemitism. I will defend any Jew regardless of whether they are Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Unaffiliated, agnostic, etc. if they were victims of antisemitism in any way. I think you see yourself as some sort of "scholar" regarding the use of the word Jew, but honestly you're not at all. By the way, Ms. Bernardi resigned today and the ADL informed me of this. So, feel free to send her a condolence card while the rest of us celebrate. By the way, it's always okay to admit that perhaps you made a mistake. Humility is a good thing.

  7. Carrie Lieberstein says:

    Larry, you are so funny. Margarine vs. Mayonnaise, hmmmm. lol

  8. Anonymous says:

    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 ANGREY 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 POEPLE 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

  9. Anonymous says:

    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

    Jaxsue likes this.

  10. 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

  11. 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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