UPDATE: April 16, 2020 (2:30 p.m.)
Minneapolis, MN — Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC), issued the following statement:
“This morning, I had the opportunity to speak at length with Nicollet Public Schools Superintendent Denny Morrow. Without divulging sensitive details, the JCRC is impressed with the seriousness with which Superintendent Morrow is approaching this incident and his willingness to working with the JCRC and the Jewish community to ensure that from this pain may come something positive. We appreciate school districts and administrators who share our values and sense of outrage when such incidents occur.
“As Jews and as Minnesotans, it is important we approach this work with equanimity and grace.
“The terrible mistakes that individuals make should never be inferred to represent the values of the community from which they come. For example, when situations arise in our schools, we look to the actions and responses from school administrators and faculty as better representations of a school’s and community’s culture than the actions of an individual student or students.
“Similarly, we do not believe that the worst or senseless thing that a person does should define an entire life. Especially, when that person is still young. We are confident that the Nicollet Public Schools, under the leadership of Superintendent Denny Morrow are ready to meet this moment. Time will tell if the students are willing to take responsibility for the harm they caused and show sincerity in their willingness to learn and grow from it.”
April 15, 2020
Minneapolis, MN — Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC), issued the following statement on the antisemitic social media post by a high school student in southern Minnesota:
“The Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC) is deeply disturbed by an antisemitic video circulated on TikTok depicting two students lightheartedly boarding a boxcar with Jewish Holocaust victims, then dancing inside the boxcar, and concluding with them skipping along the tracks into Auschwitz-Birkenau where 1.1 million people were murdered. Chillingly, the caption for the short video is ‘Me and the boys on the way to camp.’
“Sadly, our Minnesota Jewish community experienced something very similar in the 2018-2019 academic year at Minnetonka High School. We are grateful to the Minnetonka School District and Minnetonka High School for their partnership in educating their students about the unique horrors of the Holocaust, as well as to our rabbinic colleagues who along with the JCRC did the difficult work of building a relationship with the two Minnetonka High School students who created the offensive post.
“We hope that the school district, as well as the students responsible for this antisemitic TikTok will partner with the JCRC and the Jewish community to do the painful, but necessary work of understanding why their post was so offensive and repenting for the harm that these students caused.
“The JCRC is reaching out to administrators to address this disturbingly offensive TikTok video and we look forward to their response.
“As we approach Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) on Tuesday, April 21, we are increasingly concerned about a grave empathy deficit, which enables students and others to weaponize their knowledge about the Holocaust to insult the memory of the victims of the Holocaust, and further traumatize Jews at a time when we are experiencing a demonstrative increase in antisemitism.
“We remain committed to educating Minnesotans about the Holocaust and antisemitism and building empathy and respect for all Minnesotans within and beyond our Jewish community.
“Finally, the JCRC is most grateful to the young members of the Jewish community who bravely opposed this post on TikTok, and reported it to us and others. As always, the JCRC remains a resource for anyone who experiences or witnesses antisemitism or other forms of hatred and discrimination.”
As the public affairs voice of the Jewish community, the JCRC fights anti-Semitism and prejudice, advocates for Israel, provides Holocaust education, promotes tolerance and social justice, and builds bridges across the Jewish and broader communities.