Madison victim of hate identifies as culturally Jewish | Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle

Madison victim of hate identifies as culturally Jewish


Madison 18-year-old Althea Bernstein, who was reportedly set on fire by a white man, identifies as culturally Jewish, according to a family spokesperson. 

The Madison Police Department is investigating the incident as a possible hate crime. Bernstein is a biracial African American, according to family spokesman Michael Johnson.

The family identifies as both culturally Jewish and Unitarian, he said. 

Bernstein was at a stoplight with her window down on Wednesday when the attack came from a car with four white men. She was sprayed with lighter fluid, called the “n-word” and set on fire, according to police reports. The fire was set when a flaming lighter was thrown at her, police said. 

The incident occurred just a few blocks away from protests against racism and police brutality at the state Capitol. 

She was able to drive home, but was treated for third-degree burns at a hospital. The incident has captured national attention. 

Bernstein works as an EMT and is studying at Madison College to be a paramedic and firefighter. 

“I don’t have any room for hate or holding grudges,” Bernstein said on Good Morning America. “So I hope these men see what happened to me and choose to make a change in their lives.”