A Virginia school district apologized to its community after an administrator made an antisemitic comment during a public meeting.
The administrator who oversees school nurses in Fauquier County made the remark during a presentation to the school board last month.
Rabbi Rachel Schwartz, who leads the Fauquier Jewish Congregation, heard about the antisemitic comment in a local newspaper article. “My heart hurt for my students and their families,” she said.
She quickly learned Superintendent Major Warner sent a written apology to families. At the next board meeting, he addressed the issue again.
“I just wanted to stand and just to take a minute say, my sincere apologies,” he said. “That’s not who we are. That’s not reflective of who we are. That’s not what we believe.”
Schwartz said she was very grateful for the apology, but she also seized the moment with the hope of creating a teaching opportunity as Israeli Jews were suffering the greatest loss of life since the Holocaust.
She went before the board, pointing out no one immediately condemned the antisemitic words.
“You can see her say the comment, and there’s no reaction,” Schwartz said. “And it’s so important not to be a bystander; it’s so important to speak up.”
She repeated the words at the meeting so everyone would understand their hurtful nature and might learn from the painful episode.
“Our words matter whether we’re in a school, whether we’re on a radio, on TV, whether we’re in a synagogue, a church, a mosque, a gurdwara, a community meeting or a sports field,” Schwartz said. “Wherever we are, words right now are really important, and I really hope that we call learn and grow from this. We can all learn and grow more in how we speak and how we relate to each other every day.”