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Park City teacher, Rabbi speak out after swastika, hate speech found in classroom

Posted at 9:20 PM, Feb 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-16 23:20:39-05

PARK CITY, Utah — A Park City High School teacher is speaking out after racist hate speech and an antisemitic symbol was found under a desk in his classroom.

Josh Goldberg is the social studies co-department chair and teaches world history. He says he was alerted by some of students on February 3 of a swastika and the a racial slur drawn underneath one of the desks.

Goldberg, who is Jewish, says the antisemitic symbol felt like a personal attack on him and other Jewish people.

"Most of my family was murdered in the holocaust. I served in the Israeli defense forces and I worked at Yad Vashem holocaust museum in Jerusalem," said Goldberg.

He reported the incident to the school's principal the following day.

"There needs to be clear consequences for this," said Goldberg.

Goldberg has been in contact with David Levinsky, the Rabbi at Temple Har Shalom in Park City, a congregation of about 400 families.

"Our community right now feels vulnerable. There's been an uptick nationally of anti Semitism, some of it very violent," said Rabbi Levinsky.

The United Jewish Federation of Utah sent Park City School Superintendent, Dr. Jill Gildea a letter, saying in part, that their community is concerned that they are seeing once again indifference and unacceptable tolerance for antisemitic hate.

Rabbi Levinksy said he initiated a meeting with Dr. Gildea on Tuesday, calling on her to do more.

"It's a regular occurrence in Park City schools and the district has been, you know, hit and miss, but at times good about dealing with this as behavior problems, but really hasn't been tackling it as a larger cultural issue within the schools," said Rabbi Levinsky.

Dr. Gildea released a statement last week about the incident. She said, in part, "We are committed to ensuring schools where racism is not tolerated and is not ignored."

The Park City School Board also addressed the issue in a statement Tuesday night.

Read - Board condemns hate after swastika, racist attacks found at Park City schools

The board said "In particular, to those who have been targeted by these hateful actions, we stand with you.... We will continue to investigate these incidents while also working to make this a learning experience for all that hate of any sort is not welcome in Park City."

For Goldberg, he is hoping to see some changes to an issue, he says, is not isolated to Park City, or Utah.

"It's a problem across the country that hatred, marginalization, hate speech and things like this have become normalized and I just made the decision that I was not going to accept this in my classroom," said Goldberg.

Rabbi Levinsky says he reached out to the Anti-Defamation League, a national organization that helps communities that experience incidents like this.

He says their advice was adding anti-bias training to the curriculum for students and educations.