On Tuesday, October 31, our Federation sent a letter to the superintendents of Essex, Morris, Sussex, Union and Somerset County schools demanding a stronger response to action of antisemitism by students or faculty. Please share this letter with parents, students, and other community members who believe in the urgent need to respond to online and real-world hate.
Thank you for your service to our community, students, and staff. We are grateful for all that you do to educate and ensure the safety of our children.
We represent the Jewish Community of Greater MetroWest, NJ whose catchment area includes Essex, Morris, Sussex, Union, and Somerset Counties. Within our five counties there are 25,000 Jewish students, half of whom attend high schools and middle schools in the area.
Since the Hamas terror attacks of October 7, we have witnessed a disturbing rise of incidents of antisemitism in our schools and on social media. Those include physical attacks, the display of Nazi symbols on Jewish buildings, and deplorable anti-Jewish hate-speech. Many of our Jewish students feel threatened, scared, and alone in the face of a dramatic rise in online and real-world hate.
Our entire community has been deeply affected by the horrific accounts of terror, rape, murder, and kidnapping inflicted upon our Jewish brothers and sisters in Israel. Attempts by some people to explain these depraved acts as “methods of resistance” to Israeli policies are cruel and immoral, adding more pain to that which we already endure. No educator should ever ignore the fact that rape, murder, and kidnapping are always wrong. Further, calls by certain faculty, Board of Education members, and students who declare “from the river to the sea” should know they are issuing a call for genocide of the Jewish people.
Times like this demand a strong and unified response from our educational institutions but the weak response, or no response at all, has been deeply disturbing. It is all the more bewildering, when our elected leaders, from President Biden to NJ Governor Phil Murphy, state legislators, and local mayors, have recognized the attacks on Oct. 7 as an unprovoked massacre by a terrorist organization, and affirm Israel’s right to defend itself.
We call on you, as the educational leaders of our institutions, to immediately denounce any actions of antisemitism towards our students and to take the proper disciplinary actions against all those perpetrating them whether they be students or faculty. We stand ready to support and assist each of you as you navigate this difficult time. We have educational programs, resources, and professionals that specifically cover antisemitism, tolerance, and Holocaust education.
We hope that together, we can support our Jewish students as well as the entire school community to advance the universal values of acceptance, understanding, and kindness.
Linda Scherzer, Director, Jewish Community Relations Council
Ilyse Shainbrown, Director, Holocaust Council
Avi Siegel, Director, Teen Initiatives