Hit a Jew Day

(crossposted at kos)

Though I barely write any diarys or comments, I didn't see this anywhere and I'm still getting my mind around it.

A little bit of background...I grew up and still live in the St Louis area.  We don't have much of a Jewish community.  I remember when I was in school (in the 80's), there was only one Jewish girl in my class (that I knew of).  Religious diversity is not very common here.

Tonight I was making dinner, half paying attention to the local news, when I heard something that I was just sure couldn't be true.  After dinner, I went to my computer and looked it up.  Yep...one of our local middle schools had spirit week this week and one of their special days was "hit a Jew day".

According to a Parkway School District representative, the students started with "Hug A Friend Day," moved to "High Five Day,""Hit A Tall Person Day," and then, finally, this Monday, to "Hit A Jew Day."

I'm sorry...I'm tall, and I'm offended by hit a tall person day...but HIT A JEW DAY?!?  What the hell were these kids thinking?  This just sickens me.  First of all, it's not like we have this huge Jewish population...these kids probably already felt different and singled out because of their religion.  

But wait...there's more!

The students generally were not being violent or aggressive, said Cathy Kelly, communications coordinator for the district, but instead just "tapping" the students singled out by the theme of the day. At least one student, however, did slap another student, Kelly said.

"It was almost like a tag thing," Principal Lelonek said. "But then it changed."

Is the principal really going there?  Almost saying "Hey...the idea was no big deal".  It seems as if she is just making excuses for them.

Educators said they do not believe the incident was done with hatred or prejudice.

There are fewer than 30 Jewish students at Parkway West Middle School, which has an enrollment of 850 students.

They don't believe it's done with prejudice.  I'm dumbfounded.  How can this be done without prejudice?  I just don't understand.  Maybe I'm just naive, but this just hit me in my gut.  Thank you for letting me rant about this...my extreme anger has now turned into sadness.  I just hope that the kids, parents, and school can truly understand how disgusting this was.

Here are 2 links to the story  
stltoday and KSDK (local NBC station)

If you are interested, here is one number that you can call:
Dr. Robert Malito Superintendent of Schools
314-415-8002
314-415-8013 Fax

and here's an e-mail page for the administration:
Parkway e-mails

and to the principal:
Online tool to e-mail Principal Lelonek

Tags: kids, prejudice, School, St Louis (all tags)

Comments

68 Comments

mojo?

by Luma 2008-10-22 11:38PM | 0 recs
This is terrible.

It's also unusual here.  

One thing, however, I do disagree with.  There is a vibrant Jewish community in St. Louis and there is religious diversity here.

See, e.g., http://www.jccstl.com/Default.aspx

The Jewish Community Center has been a presence in the St. Louis community since 1880.  Below you can follow the history of how the JCC established itself and became an integral part of not only the Jewish Community, but a part of the larger St. Louis community as a whole.  From it's early days as the YMHA downtown to our current three thriving campuses in suburban St. Louis and the Lake of the Ozarks, the JCC has been a part of St. Louis.

http://www.stlgs.org/religionsJewish.htm


Today's Jewish population in the St. Louis area exceeds 60,000. It supports numerous Jewish congregations and cemeteries as well as a Holocaust museum, theater, charities, schools, and a nationally-known hospital.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Je ws

Several other major cities have over 5% Jewish proportions,[citation needed] including Cleveland,[citation needed] Baltimore,[citation needed] and St. Louis.[citation needed]

I don't know why this would happen at Parkway West, but it does not reflect St. Louis as a whole.  

by TomP 2008-10-23 10:03AM | 0 recs
Agree, there's an active Jewish community there

and the communities in the Parkway West area used to (assume they still do) have a diverse number of religions represented. It used to be the district where the corporate execs lived and raised families.

What kind of idiots are running this school district?  For the life of me, I can't figure out what kind of reality these educators live in.  No doubt they don't have enough interaction with the outside world to have any concept of community standards or decency.

by Betsy McCall 2008-10-23 12:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Hit a Jew Day

I know some really cute jews.....baby I would love to hit that Natalie Portman...

Maybe I mean it in a different way than you do

by dtaylor2 2008-10-23 12:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Hit a Jew Day

I wish I could schlep to Florida with Sarah Silverman. What a doll.

by Spiffarino 2008-10-23 05:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Hit a Jew Day

or Alicia Silverstone.  ;)

by Sandwich Repairman 2008-10-23 12:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Hit a Jew Day

Boo-YAH!

by Spiffarino 2008-10-24 06:21AM | 0 recs
Re: Hit a Jew Day

ahh, good ol dtaylor2 feminism in action; makes the heart swell with hope, don't it?

by vadasz 2008-10-23 10:08AM | 0 recs
Re: Hit a Jew Day

I am not a feminist.

by dtaylor2 2008-10-23 05:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Hit a Jew Day

nor 'hit on' day, hit day.  That's really weird.  Wanna bet that school will be in the next Sacha Baron Cohen film?  

by anna shane 2008-10-23 10:15AM | 0 recs
Re: Hit a Jew Day

dtaylor just can't catch a break here...

by Skaje 2008-10-23 02:01PM | 0 recs
Re: Hit a Jew Day

I got 2 zeros and a 1 for Natelie Portman...

Must be some starwars purists here....

by dtaylor2 2008-10-23 05:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Hit a Jew Day

As a Jew I find this apalling, however, I could make an exception for Joe Lieberman.

by Democrat in Chicago 2008-10-23 05:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Hit a Jew Day

You'll have to wait for "Punch A Total Douche Day" to get your wish.

by Spiffarino 2008-10-23 05:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Hit a Jew Day

Maybe you folks in STL should force Todd Akin to introduce a resolution in the House condemning this.  Or if he won't, Sen. McCaskill.

by Sandwich Repairman 2008-10-23 12:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Hit a Jew Day

The fact that this can even be discussed as if there is any rationale to it, is pretty unspeakable.  Next comes armbands?  Frightening.

I'll be e-mailing.  Thank you for posting this.

by mady 2008-10-23 06:18AM | 0 recs
that principal

is no pal.

by sepulvedaj3 2008-10-23 06:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Hit a Jew Day

Just how, I wonder, were students identified as being Jewish? I can't believe that there are no adult advisers in that school to say no to this. Offensive doesn't begin to say it.

by Nag 2008-10-23 06:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Hit a Jew Day

I don't know how the students were identified. Both my parents are retired teachers...and whenever a bunch of students got together and planned something, there are at least 5 teachers that find out what's going on.  The fact that no adult knew what was going on with this is frankly unbelievable.

by Luma 2008-10-23 06:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Hit a Jew Day

Probably the ones that were absent on both September 30th (first day of Rosh Hashanah)& October 9th (Yom Kippur).  

by Hughsterg 2008-10-23 12:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Hit a Jew Day
Cowards and racists prey upon the weak and outnumbered. I'm sure the "Hit a Black" day got cancelled because they relized they would have been knocked the hell out.
I used to teach  High School, there's no way some teacher didn't know.
I say that the local Jewish population doesn't let this drop. Don't give up until you find out which teachers turned the other way....
And then suspend thier sorry asses!
by xodus1914 2008-10-23 07:03AM | 0 recs
Re: Hit a Jew Day

This is what happens when you have a tiny minority who are too cowed to say anything.  I'm quite sure, for example, that the Jews there are quite well-behaved about it, and if the principle gets in trouble over it some of them may even defend the day publicly.

Reminds me of my father talking about how in his elementary school in Greensboro, the teacher would lead the students in prayer in the morning.  If you didn't want to take part, or couldn't, then you could voluntarily leave the room, "so what's the problem"?.  So every day the school's only Jewish child would get up and stand outside for five minutes.

by Jess81 2008-10-23 07:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Hit a Jew Day

These children were the victims of religious-based violence (often known as a "hate crime"). Your assumptions that they were "cowed", and "that the Jews there are quite well behaved" are completely unfounded, and perpetuate the exact sort of stereotyping that creates this type of situation.

by LakersFan 2008-10-23 10:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Hit a Jew Day

Unless you've been a religious minority in a school where it really matters, you ought to get off of your high horse.

by Jess81 2008-10-23 10:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Hit a Jew Day

Have been, and I have never been "cowed". Get off your stereotyping high horse.

by LakersFan 2008-10-23 11:02AM | 0 recs
Re: Hit a Jew Day

So have I.  Most people swallow it and pretend they don't mind if they're severely outnumbered.

by Jess81 2008-10-23 11:04AM | 0 recs
Re: Hit a Jew Day

That's an awfully big assumption, and one that perpetuates a stereotype. If you've been in that situation, then you should cease making those types of assumptions.

by LakersFan 2008-10-23 11:05AM | 0 recs
Re: Hit a Jew Day

I'm not sure who I'm supposed to be stereotyping.  Human beings?  Perhaps I should have put "well behaved" inside giant, easily read square quotes, instead of the implied ones.

Either way, you're acting like a dick.

by Jess81 2008-10-23 11:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Hit a Jew Day

Either way, "being cowed" is not a kind characterization.

And resorting to name-calling only proves that you're having trouble communicating effectively.

by LakersFan 2008-10-23 11:23AM | 0 recs
if i may...

interject.  both jess and lakersfan are 2 of my favourite peeps here and it just seems to me that you are both on the same page but rather have a case of crossed semantics here.

fist jabs everyone?

by canadian gal 2008-10-23 11:26AM | 0 recs
Re: if i may...

Deal.

Sorry I said you were acting like a dick.  I should have made it clear that I was using "well-behaved" ironicly, and that also I was speaking from personal experience, which other people may not share.

by Jess81 2008-10-23 11:28AM | 0 recs
Re: if i may...

Deal.

I think I understand where you're coming from now, but it sure didn't sound that way. I really dislike stereotypes, even in jest, because I think it gives bigots an excuse for their behavior.

And we're agreeing on other comments below, so it's clear we're really on the same side here. Sorry to be so overly sensitive.

by LakersFan 2008-10-23 11:42AM | 0 recs
Re: if i may...

eh, it happens.

by Jess81 2008-10-23 12:00PM | 0 recs
Re: if i may...

cg, you're the best!

by LakersFan 2008-10-23 11:43AM | 0 recs
Re: if i may...

shucks...  seriously though - this story, once you begin to think about its implications is pretty whacked.

by canadian gal 2008-10-23 11:47AM | 0 recs
Re: if i may...

Completely whacked.

The weird thing is St. Louis has a decent sized Jewish population, and a very prominent Jewish hospital.

by LakersFan 2008-10-23 12:06PM | 0 recs
WTF?
Where are the adults in that fucking school? How about burn a heretic day? What about slap a retard day? Punch a baby? Stab a teacher? Oh, I guess if they say as long as there's no maliciousness, its ok. These administrators/educators are a disgrace and should be fired - into the sun.
by mydailydrunk 2008-10-23 07:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Hit a Jew Day

I live in the area, and read the article in the Post-Dispatch, and think people are over-reacting.

At first, glance, I agree, this appears reprehensible. But looking deeper, I think the kids involved were surprised that anyone got upset. They found it no different than singling out some who is tall.

As a non-jew who lives in the area, I never saw very much prejudice against Jews - certainly nothing like I saw against blacks. I have a feeling it is because we just don't have a large Jewish population, so it never comes up. the worst things I ever heard about Jews growing up was that they were cheap.

Despite the intent being non-malicious, the kids were suspended anyway. I think the message that this was unacceptable was delivered and received. It was an ill-advised and stupid event, but put the pitchforks away.

by pneuma 2008-10-23 07:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Hit a Jew Day

When was the last time "people who were tall" were actually murdered for it?

by mady 2008-10-23 08:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Hit a Jew Day

You must not be familiar with the LoompaLand Massacre of 1974.  ;)

by fogiv 2008-10-23 09:38AM | 0 recs
Re: Hit a Jew Day

Have you ever stopped to consider that reacting with outrage to every slight makes people more likely to ignore you when something really bad happens?

These are kids who I believe were trying to be inclusive, not hateful. Save your outrage for something worth it.

by pneuma 2008-10-23 09:40AM | 0 recs
Tolerance is not all inclusive
Are you kidding me? You tolerate a chapter of any group that promotes singling out a minority group for amusement? Isn't school bad enough without institutionalized discrimination? How would anyone in their right mind think that this practice is useful for promoting civil and civic minded behavior? No wonder kids are going all Columbine and shit.
by mydailydrunk 2008-10-23 09:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Tolerance is not all inclusive

I think you are missing the point. The way I read the situation, the verb is irrelevant. they were trying to positively draw attention to sub-groups in the community. Would you still be upset if they had done "Kiss a Jew Day"?

by pneuma 2008-10-23 09:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Tolerance is not all inclusive

As long as you're going there, why not just make it "pin a gold star on a Jew day"?

Seriously. No rational person can believe that they were "trying to positively draw attention to a sub-group".

by LakersFan 2008-10-23 10:22AM | 0 recs
Re: Tolerance is not all inclusive

Forgive me if I am not sufficiently outraged for you. The fact that I'm unwilling to believe that a bunch of middle school kids want to beat Jews, despite significant evidence to the contrary, must make me irrational.

Everyone knows that everyone in the mid-west are uneducated fat bigots. Let's burn down the school.

by pneuma 2008-10-23 10:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Tolerance is not all inclusive

I think you just broke the record for "number of strawmen in a single post".

by Jess81 2008-10-23 10:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Tolerance is not all inclusive

What "evidence to the contrary"? There is none.

Violence that is directed at a specific religious group is what is commonly known as a "hate crime". No forgiveness for excusing that behavior at all.

by LakersFan 2008-10-23 11:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Tolerance is not all inclusive

The fact the school officials believe that nothing was meant by it. You know, people who were actually there, and not sitting back and criticizing it on the internet.

by pneuma 2008-10-23 11:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Tolerance is not all inclusive

School officials will always excuse that sort of thing to protect themselves.  How many rapes are covered up on campuses?  The fact that they're saying that there's nothing wrong with it means absolutely nothing.

"Hit a Jew day" is really, REALLY fucking uncool.  If that's not immediately apparent to you then I don't know if any conversation is possible.

by Jess81 2008-10-23 11:22AM | 0 recs
Re: Tolerance is not all inclusive

You're right, I give up. We should string them up.

by pneuma 2008-10-23 11:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Tolerance is not all inclusive

You're just making stuff up.

School officials did not believe there was "nothing meant by it" at all. As soon as they heard about it, they held an assembly where the principal made it clear to the students that this was NOT okay (read the linked article).

There is NO excuse for this behavior and there was nothing "positive" about this.

by LakersFan 2008-10-23 11:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Tolerance is not all inclusive

You're right, I give up. We should string them up.

by pneuma 2008-10-23 11:37AM | 0 recs
Pin a gold star day
Yeah, make sure all the jews display their flair. We could also give watermelons to blacks, whiskey and a potato to the irish, sombreros to mexicans, little boys to catholics, dogs to the chinese. The worst thing is that these ignorant motherfuckers didn't understand that what they were doing was bigoted, and they will apologize by saying, "I'm sorry IF I offended you."
by mydailydrunk 2008-10-23 11:11AM | 0 recs
Yes, I'd be pissed
I'm not saying that people should be trying to hide their heritage, but this is a far different thing to have the majority to show how fucking great they are by searching out those who don't share the majority's commonality. While celebrating a group's uniqueness is a positive, we should be striving to bolster the common threads that we all have. It is simply put, elitist. Elitism through majority.
by mydailydrunk 2008-10-23 11:03AM | 0 recs
Re: Yes, I'd be pissed

Oh, I fully acknowledge that it was dumb, insensitive, il-advised, thoughtless, prone to misunderstanding, did I mention dumb...but I can't make the jump to malicious. I don't think this was a "hate crime". Dragging someone to death behind a pick-up truck because they are gay is a hate crime. Sporting nooses is a hate crime.

This is just kids being stupid. Treating it as anything else diminishes real hate crimes.

by pneuma 2008-10-23 11:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Yes, I'd be pissed

Refusing to acknowledge that this is religious-based violence is very big problem, unless you think educating children to be intolerant and violent is a good thing.

Kids who do "stupid" things targeting a particlar minority group are the very people who grow up to be perpetrators of hate crimes.  

by LakersFan 2008-10-23 03:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Hit a Jew Day

"Hit a black day"
"Hit a Jew day"
"Hit a cripple day"

I'm Jewish. I would really not have appreciated being singled out and hit for my religion.  Do any of the above seem benign to you?

by mady 2008-10-23 10:10AM | 0 recs
Used to have "hit a fat kid" too
Although we called it dodgeball. Also spazzes, tards, queers (although in 1974, we called everyone who was odd, a queer, it was just another word). But really, I used to get into fights (1970's Arkansas) because it was my dad who was Jewish. Joke's on them though, they're too dumb to know that its based on the mother's faith. So I got the last laugh...? Typical christian tolerance.
by mydailydrunk 2008-10-23 09:41AM | 0 recs
How about kiss a beautiful jewish guy

day?

I really do not understand racism, anti-Semitism, or prejudice. I think we are all beautiful. Maybe it's because I am from that bastion of sin called New York City.. How could someone be full of so much prejudice against anyone?  Could it be generational, geography or lack of education? I cannot understand this. I cannot understand  because my family resembles the United Nations, so I see this as foolishness. Diversity is the future. These people need to get over it.

by TennesseeGurl 2008-10-23 09:43AM | 0 recs
Btw, Someone taught them that this is

acceptable behavior..Kids just dont pull this out of the air. How sad..

by TennesseeGurl 2008-10-23 09:45AM | 0 recs
maybe the tip off was...

that they wearing one of these.

by canadian gal 2008-10-23 11:04AM | 0 recs
Re: Hit a Jew Day

I lived in St. Louis for 2 years, and went to high school at Lafayette in the adjacent Rockwood district.  Parkway has far more Jews; West and Central especially have healthy numbers of them.  This is totally bizarre.  STL actually has had a sizeable Jewish community for generations (my Dad's family has been there since the mid-1800s), and many of them moved west from U. City to West County.  This truly surprises me.  If you need help fighting this, I know some people and groups in the area that could help.  The National Council of Jewish Women has a strong St. Louis section, and United Hebrew wouldn't be happy about this either.

by Sandwich Repairman 2008-10-23 12:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Hit a Jew Day

Read the links.

School principal Linda Lelonek said it started last week. The sixth graders decided to have a 'Hug a Friend' day. Then it was 'High-Five Day,' but teachers did not know what was going on until several kids were hit.

Lelonek called a school assembly Tuesday morning to talk about religious diversity and inappropriate behavior. And school officials promised there would be consequences for those responsible.

Educators said they do not believe the incident was done with hatred or prejudice.

While I can't believe the last sentence, it was apparently initiated by the kids themselves. That's the problem here not the educators, who apparently assumed that such obvious prejudice could not occur in their schools.

Is it the parents then that need to be educated? I think so, although it is perhaps a situation that not even the parents were aware of. Somewhere along the line, however, education was lacking. For my part, I believe that schools should be in the frontlines as far as teaching diversity and tolerance. They don't. Computer science or general academics seem to be more important.

This incident is really a condemnation of our school systems which appear incapable of teaching important basics about the world of people and differences and similarities.

by MainStreet 2008-10-23 01:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Hit a Jew Day

A little PS: I can't imagine what harassment an American child of Arab or Muslim decent must be going through.

by MainStreet 2008-10-23 01:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Hit a Jew Day

I'm in highschool, and have experience with this sort of thing myself. In our school, Hit a Jew day ocurred a few weeks ago, and was not motivated by any sort of prejudice.

I know this because it was accompanied by Kick a White Guy Day and Hug an Asian Day. This "days" are childish and stupid, but at least where I lived, there is no specific prejudice involved. As it is, it's lucky for me there's no "Smite an Atheist" day, or I would've been hit by lightning twice already.

by Howler8 2008-10-23 06:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Hit a Jew Day

Thanks man. Is this a meme going around?

by pneuma 2008-10-23 07:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Hit a Jew Day

Thanks man. Is this a meme going around?

by pneuma 2008-10-23 07:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Hit a Jew Day

Should have been a reply to Howler8.

by pneuma 2008-10-23 07:12PM | 0 recs

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