Although some suspect the work of ignorant delinquents, the discovery of swastikas for the second time in six weeks at Pascack Valley High School comes at a time that most say makes it particularly troubling.
Most notably, there was the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting – the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history – by a man who authorities said posted Nazi symbols online.
Before that, there were the five swastikas found drawn in shaving cream outside Jewish homes on a Haworth street on Halloween morning.
And there was a recent report that incidents of swastika painting have increased this year in New York City, along with anti-Semitic bomb threats, assaults and vandalism. Nearly 20% of the incidents were reported in the last three weeks of October alone.
Hillsdale police were in the process of investigating two swastikas found in separate high school boys’ bathroom stalls when three more were found the morning of Election Day this week, Pascack Valley Schools Supt. P. Erik Gundersen said.
Gundersen urged students, parents and staff members to “talk about how we can all be more caring, compassionate, and respectful....We also ask that if you ever encounter a person or environment of intolerance, violence, or hate, that you share your concern with someone from our staff so we can assist."
District officials are working with police to identify those responsible while “instituting additional programs to help us address what has unfortunately gone beyond isolated incidents,” the schools chief said.
Gundersen said said his staff also reached out to the school’s Student Government Association “to work on ways we can collaboratively educate students against such acts.”
“These kids don't have a clue as to what happened and what evil that swastika stood for,” wrote Robert Fekete of Oakland.
That may be true, but many hardly find it comforting.
“This hate is not new,” journalist Marlaina Cockcroft wrote in a moving post that was shared widely on Facebook , “but I worry it's getting worse."
"There is no reason in 2018 a Jewish teen should feel unsafe, embarrassed or mocked for being who they are," said Rabbi Yosef Orenstein of Valley Chabad. "Not here. Not anywhere."
“We need to call it out each and every time it happens," state Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi added. "We have to teach our children how unacceptable religious intolerance is."
ALSO SEE: Haworth police said they found no evidence that anyone was targeted by They nonetheless were treating the Halloween-morning discovery as a bias incident.
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