South Shore students react to anti-Semitic messages |

South Shore students react to anti-Semitic messages

William Ferchland

The weeks before Christmas break are usually when Eileen McEwen teaches her eighth-grade English classes about the Holocaust through the play about Anne Frank.

The lessons turned into reality when Nazi swastikas were spray-painted earlier this month on the walls of Temple Bat Yam in South Lake Tahoe.

Dismayed, McEwen tried to become part of the solution by assigning her students to write a list of 10 activities to stop the spread of hatred.

Student Ariane Delacruz proposed better communication.

“Instead of spreading hate you can try to talk though your conflict(s) instead of hating the person because it helps if you resolve your conflict in a less physical way, unlike they did in the past,” she wrote.

Fellow student Lina Caro had similar ideas, such as reading history books and making friends with those who have diverse backgrounds.

“Think of how we would feel if we or our family was treated with anger and hate,” Lina stated.

Other students listed activities, such as playing video games or learning a different language. Many listed the advantage of understanding U.S. and world history.

With elementary students moving on to the larger middle school, faculty has employed practices to make the campus a friendlier place.

One example is that history, math, English and other teachers have the same group of students, allowing the instructors to share information on a student’s attitude and academic progress, McEwen said.

McEwen said she was impressed by the answers her students provided on their assignment.

“We often look at them for being young and think of them as being children but they have mature ideas and very intelligent responses to the world outside them,” she said.

The play McEwen’s students are studying, “The Diary of Anne Frank,” is a theatrical version of the book with a similar title. Frank, a Jewish-German teenager, kept a diary during the 25 months she had to hide with her family from Nazi soldiers in cramped quarters above her father’s Amsterdam office.

“I tell them at the very beginning, when we start studying this, that this is more than studying a play,” McEwen said.

Student Crystal Brown seemed to get the point. Her list was more about embracing education and multiple viewpoints than distracting hobbies.

“Know that each religion and race has their own perspective on things, even if you think their point of view on things is foolish or untrue you should respect them,” she wrote.

The South Lake Tahoe Police Department is still investigating the hate vandalism. Sgt. Cam Carmichael hopes the vandal is gone since no new anti-Semitic marks have been spotted; leads that detectives gathered did not materialize.

– E-mail William Ferchland at

Support Local Journalism

Your support means a better informed community. Donate today.


See more