There is an alarming report coming out of Boston. It details a series of jaw-droppingly offensive acts of anti-Semitic acts perpetrated on Jewish children in a Boston suburb, Bedford, Massachusetts.
The really horrifying part is that some of the worst of the anti-Semitic acts were committed by elementary school students.
There were the sadly standard drawings of swastikas in the high school boys bathrooms and one etched onto a playground slide. But there were also ominous graffiti messages, such as “Jews kill them all.” That one was at an elementary school.
The incidents went beyond passive drawings and written messages.
One child said that a classmate told her they were going to destroy her country because she is Jewish.
Another Jewish child was told by a peer that she could not have a cracker because Jews didn’t believe in Jesus Christ.
All of those incidents took place during the fall.
During the winter holiday season, when students were discussing the difference between Christmas and Hanukkah, one of the comments made was that Jews were responsible for killing Jesus.
The incidents were brought to the attention of the entire Bedford community in a letter written to them by Jon Sills, the commissioner of the Bedford School District, according to WBZ, a Boston CBS affiliate station.
The anti-Semitic graffiti appeared in elementary schools and high schools, but a game called “Jail the Jew” was played by students at an elementary school, according to Sills.
Sills says the school has responded by informing parents in an effort to raise awareness. He has also arranged to bring in school, clergy and community leaders to figure out how best to deal with the situation.
“I believe that the broader the response, the less likely the perpetrators of hate speech will feel that their behavior is permissible, and that Bedford’s proud claim of being a community that refuses to tolerate hate will be imbued with renewed meaning,” Sills said in the email.
The Bedford Police Chief Robert Bongiorno released the following statement last Thursday: “The Bedford Police Department, in partnership with the Bedford Public Schools, is committed to ending and preventing any further acts of antisemitism in our community. Hateful words and actions have no place in Bedford, and we will work with our partners in town government, the schools, and community groups to help rid our town of hate.”
A community meeting is scheduled for tonight, March 20, at 7 p.m., at the John Glenn Middle School in Bedford.
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.
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