Jewish school kids return taunts by Catholic school kids at basketball game

by Gregory Tomlin, |
An anti-Semitic sign hangs on a light pole near the campus of Yale University. While not on campus, it was close enough to remind those at the university of previous instances of anti-Semitic graffiti there. | The Algemeiner via WVIT

BOSTON (Christian Examiner) – Administrators at a Catholic school in West Roxbury, Mass., as well as the Archdiocese of Boston, have apologized to the students and faculty of Newton North High School after students from the Catholic school were heard chanting "You killed Jesus" during a basketball game between the schools March 11. A large percentage of the student body at the Newton, Mass., school is Jewish.

Peter Folan, president of the all-boys Catholic Memorial School, a college preparatory school, issued a statement immediately following the event saying the school was "deeply disturbed" by the student's behavior and their "unacceptable chant" at the game.

"CM faculty and staff acted immediately to stop the behavior," Folan said in the statement. He also that administrators from the school discussed the incident with representatives from Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association. The organization has a taunting policy which is meant to prohibit such behavior.

"At the conclusion of the game, CM students were reprimanded and each student personally apologized to the Principal of Newton North High School and shook his hand before leaving the arena," Folan said.

"We have been the subject of hurtful chants as well and we will work diligently within our own community and with other schools to end this abhorrent behavior. Catholic Memorial School believes deeply that intolerance, of any kind, is unacceptable. We apologize for the actions of our students and we will continue to strenuously address this issue within our community."

The New England Branch of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) responded to the incident. Robert Trestan, ADL's regional director for New England, said he was "very concerned why some fans thought this chant was appropriate for a high school basketball game."

While Trestan said he was grateful the situation was addressed quickly, he hoped the incident would teach students that "hate speech has no place in the stands of any sporting event."

However, the students of Catholic Memorial were not the only ones doing the taunting. Students from Newton North at one point in the game offered up a crude chant of their own, meant to insinuate that the all-boys school was a hotbed of homosexual activity.

Newton Public Schools Superintendent David Fleishman claimed Saturday he had contacted the ADL to discuss the issue and Newton North students would discuss the issue Monday.

The Archdiocese of Boston also issued a statement Saturday calling the incident "troubling."

"The Archdiocese wishes to make clear that the behavior of a number of students from Catholic Memorial at the game is unacceptable," the statement said.

"On Thursday evening of this past week, in observance of the 50th anniversary of the Church's landmark document that overturned the Church's history of anti-Jewish attitudes and teaching, Cardinal Sean O'Malley stood in solidarity with hundreds of members of the Jewish community and in affirming the Jewish and Catholic communities' shared heritage of faith."

"We are pleased that the administration of Catholic Memorial took corrective action immediately during and after the basketball game. This incident, while not representative of the school community, presents an opportunity to promote an important learning experience for the students," the statement said.

The archdiocese said in the statement that it would help the administration at Catholic Memorial ensure that "there is no recurrence of these actions or attitudes."