Images of swastikas and racial slurs were discovered in a Mahopac Middle School bathroom on Wednesday.
“It makes me sad. I feel it’s hurtful to our children,” said Mahopac Middle School parent, Karen Nystrom. “We as parents should all tell our children to respect each other, be friends with each other, and if you see something, tell your teachers, tell your parents, and report it.”
The images and language have since been removed and the school has promised additional monitoring of the bathrooms.
The Mahopac Central School District said in a statement, “Images of swastikas and racial slurs were discovered in a bathroom at Mahopac Middle School this week. The district is continuing to work with local law enforcement to investigate this incident. The Mahopac Central School District condemns all forms of discrimination. We will continue to stress, in all aspects of our curriculum, the need for our students to respect all people and to understand the power such symbols and words hold. Our students must be mindful that words and imagery can hurt others, including those who live right here in our community.”
This is not the first antisemitic incident in Putnam County schools during the 2023 fall and winter semesters.
Back in early October, a swastika was found carved into the leg of a table at Carmel High School. Not long before that, a swastika and the words “Adolf Hitler” were found written on the school’s tennis courts.
Right near Mahopac Middle School is the hamlet’s only synagogue, Temple Beth Shalom. Rabbi Sarah Freidson said such incidents are detrimental, but the community’s support is helpful.
“I would say that dealing with antisemitism is always a challenge, it’s disheartening, and we know that we have so many more allies than those who would do harm,” she said.
In light of the recent events, Freidson is asking Mahopac residents to support the Jewish community.
“Be vocal about your values, to be vocal in support of the Jewish community, and all minorities, and this is the season where we add light, and may we all have light and hope in the future,” she said.
The student or students involved in the Mahopac incident have yet to be identified. The school and the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office are investigating. They’re asking anyone with information to reach out to the Sheriff’s Office via their online tip line.