Community needs to stand up to bigotry and hate

To the Editor:

On May 30, the Fairfield Prep lacrosse team defeated Staples 11-10 in overtime. It was a magnificent win for the Fairfield team, but a horrible loss for our community. As reported by people who attended this match, a group of fans from Fairfield Prep, known as the Bomb Squad, yelled anti-Semitic chants and slurs when Jewish players had the ball or scored a goal. Some people might dismiss this as an isolated incident and blame rowdy teenagers cheering for their friends to win a game, but for me, this is a symptom of a much greater problem.

This incident is sadly part of a trend that is surging in our society and in our country. Last year, the Anti-Defamation League reported that anti-Semitic incidents dramatically increased by 57% across the country. 49 of those incidents occurred right here in our home state of Connecticut, including acts of vandalism and harassment. A recent study released this past April, showed that nearly two thirds of American Millennials don’t know what the horrific concentration camp Auschwitz is, and 22% of American Millennials said they haven’t heard of the Holocaust.

I applaud the recent legislation signed by Governor Malloy requiring local and regional school boards to include the study of the Holocaust and other genocides in their curriculum. This is a great step forward, but what happened at that lacrosse game shows us that legislation is not enough. We need to work holistically. We need to educate parents, teachers and community leaders to serve as role models to our children. We need students, adults, staff and coaches who are prepared to stand up to bigotry and hate in any form and stop horrendous acts like this while they are happening.

Anti-Semitism is not only a Jewish problem, it is a problem that impacts all of us. Throughout my career, I have worked with wonderful and committed Jesuit ministers. They were loving, caring and embodied the values of compassion and tolerance taught by St. Ignatius of Loyola. They taught me that any action aimed to demean the dignity of another person has no place in our society. These Bomb Squad students showed that we have a ticking bomb in our hands. I call on our local authorities, leaders and parents to investigate this incident so that the instigators and participants in this hateful act can be shown there is no place for this kind of hatred and cruelty. We must do everything in our power to dismantle this bomb before it explodes in our midst.

Rabbi Marcelo Kormis

Congregation Beth El, Fairfield

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