By Judie Jacobson
Fans at a soccer game at South Windsor High School are accused of using “The Dreidel Song” as an antisemitic taunt directed at the opposing team.
Fans of the South Windsor boys’ varsity soccer team chanted verses from the well-known Chanukah tune during a game on Wednesday, Oct. 14 against William Hall High School in West Hartford. Hall won the game.
“We take this situation seriously and are committed to using this unfortunate incident as a catalyst for meaningful conversations and teachable moments,” the district’s superintendent of schools, Kate Carter, said in a statement. South Windsor High School administrators have met with students who chanted the song during the game and the school is prepared to work with the Anti-Defamation League to provide programming for the students, she said.
A video of the incident was captured on a cellphone and was aired on NBC Connecticut.
This is not the first time Hall High has been faced with the same taunt at a sporting event. Almost a year ago to the day, during a soccer game between Hall and West Hartford’s Conard High School, hosted by Hall, fans of both teams reportedly exchanged offensive chants.
At that Oct. 2, 2014 incident, reports indicated that Conard students had sung Hava Nagila and The Dreidel Song at Hall students, who reportedly responded with their own taunt. Many Hall students reported that coaches for both teams remained silent. The Ledger was able to confirm the Conard taunt, but was unable to confirm the response by Hall students.
At that time, Dr. Yifrah Kaminer, an adolescent psychiatrist at UConn who specializes in high-risk behavior and a member of the Hall High School PTO, suggested incorporating texts like Constantine’s Sword by James Carroll and From Jesus to Christianity by L. Michael White into the classroom as a way of combatting antisemitic behavior.
“Teaching world religions should not be a superficial review with a positive spin on the ‘American Way;’ that is, style over content and facts to make everyone happy,” he said. “Learning and discussing historical facts that address the roots of the conflicts between Christianity and Judaism that led to organized anti-Semitism and its devastating consequences should be a priority. A similar creative approach to address racism and the like would be challenging yet productive.”
He also advocates banning students from at least one game, informing parents, and requiring student to conduct research on the sources of antisemitism, present their findings to their class, and be graded.
“Last but not least,” Kaminer said, “I’d like to hear a courageous response from Jewish community leaders.”