MILWAUKEE – The Jewish Community Relations Council of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation organized a group signing of a statement expressing alarm and concern after a photo circulated on the Internet appeared to show high-school students in Baraboo making a Nazi salute. The incident has attracted national media coverage.
Signatories include both Jewish and non-Jewish groups.
“We are alarmed by the disturbing display of anti-Semitism by a group of Baraboo High School students. Though the incident apparently took place last May, it reflects a rising swell of anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry,” reads the statement. “We are particularly concerned with the prevalence of bigotry within schools; more than 25 percent of all the recorded anti-Semitic incidents in Wisconsin last year took place among students or on campus. We have witnessed numerous egregious incidents targeting African Americans, Latinos, and other minority groups.”
Groups signing on include the Jewish Federation of Madison, ADL Midwest, the Wisconsin Council of Churches, Underwood Memorial Baptist Church, and the Milwaukee Islamic Dawah Center.
“The photo is not endorsed by nor reflective of the educational values and beliefs of the School District of Baraboo,” according to a tweet from the district, which says it is investigating.
“We appreciate the school district’s comment and look forward to working with them to prevent any future such incidents. As we know, acts of hate begin with hateful expressions. Such expressions must be a call to action for schools and families to educate youth to respect diversity and to embrace difference. The values that will hold us together must be taught and reinforced, lest we see the continued rise of hate and its consequences,” reads the statement.
Other signatories include the Wisconsin Jewish Conference; the Congregation Emanu El B’ne Jeshurun Social Action Committee; Congregation Shalom; Congregation Sinai; Greater Milwaukee Synod, ELCA, The Rev. Paul D. Erickson, Bishop; Just Be Hope United Methodist Center, the Rev. Deborah Thompson; League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) of Wisconsin; MA’RUF — Aamer Ahmed, president; Masjid Al Qur’an Milwaukee, Hafiz Muhammad Shafique; Milwaukee Metropolitan Community Church, Rev. Tory V. Topjian, senior pastor; Milwaukee Zen Center, Rev. Tonen O’Connor, Resident Priest Emerita; The Spark Wisconsin, Rabbi Moishe Steigmann; Wisconsin Conference, United Church of Christ, Rev. Franz Rigert, Conference Minister; University of Wisconsin Hillel Foundation; Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice, Rabbi Bonnie Margolis; YWCA Southeast Wisconsin; Rabbi Mordechai Cohen, Director of Religious Programming, Park Plaza Retirement Center, Chicago; the Rev. Dr. Steven Hecky, United Church of Christ – Wisconsin; the Rev. Erik Koepnick; the Tim McMurtry II, associate pastor, World Outreach Center and state director, Christians United for Israel – Wisconsin.
It’s expected more signatories are to be added to this list.