Antisemitism in Edina Public Schools: “No one really takes it seriously”

December 19, 2022

Antisemitism is frequently experienced by Edina Public School students. Since moving to Edina in middle school, freshman Samantha Kushins has experienced antisemitic attacks directed at both her and her friends. “Somebody attempted to rip off my Star of David necklace while fighting over a doughnut that they wanted. So they decided to bring religion into it, which made me feel uncomfortable,” Kushins said. While learning about the Holocaust, somebody told her friend that she and other Jewish people should burn in hell. “There’s something I also find very funny about that because personally, my sect of Judaism doesn’t believe in hell. We believe that everyone goes to heaven because everybody’s good at heart. So I mean, it makes me laugh when people say things like that. It’s like, well, that’s not really culturally correct,” Kushins said. 

Junior Lilly Atar describes antisemitism as a prevalent part of her life since she was young. As a middle schooler at Edina, Atar witnessed a student go on a rant about his admiration for Hitler. “I was disgusted that no one really did anything,” she said. She noted frequently seeing kids making Nazi salutes, Nazi-related jokes, and drawing swastikas “all over the place.” “No one really takes [antisemitism] seriously,” she said.

Nazi rhetoric is noted as a frequent issue by many Jewish students. “Middle schoolers would tell a lot of Nazi jokes,” junior Viveca Karch said. “There are people who think the Holocaust was fake and say, ‘It was a super long time ago, why do we keep learning it?’” 

Asher Kaufman, an eighth grader at South View Middle School, has also noticed that antisemitism often takes the form of humor. “There have been some issues [of antisemitism] at my school. A lot of kids find it pretty lighthearted. I’m not wanting to take things too seriously,” he said. “But at a certain point, you got to realize, hey, maybe doing that kind of stuff is appropriating the millions who died in the Holocaust. I think at a certain point, people should really grow up.”

This year, EPS changed district policy to address antisemitism and discrimination more directly. Following the antisemitic video featuring EHS students, EHS Principle Andrew Beaton and EPS officials crafted district policy 506, explicitly prohibiting racism, religious-based discrimination, xenophobia, sexual orientation, and gender identity discrimination. “I would not say that, as a whole, antisemitism is a problem at this high school. But I do know that antisemitism exists, and we have had students that have displayed ignorance about religious intolerance. And they’ve been disciplined for that,” Beaton said.

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