December 20, 2022 | To: The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board Trustees and Director
As this most traumatic year draws to a close, we reach out to the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board Trustees and Senior Staff to demand action. There is no time to waste. The safety and well-being of children and educators are at stake. The explosion of Jew-hatred in schools under your administration prompted an unprecedented gathering of hundreds of Ottawa Jewish community members and allies on November 6, 2022 at Rise Up Ottawa. The message from the partnering organizations, Members of Parliament, dignitaries, speakers, and participants was clear – the OCDSB must confront the entrenched Jew-hatred occuring on your watch.
Most of your Trustees attended Rise Up Ottawa. Will you continue to ignore the urgent and clarion call of the students, parents, teachers, and organizations who have delegated, emailed, called, and met with you begging for safety for over a year? Will you continue to ignore the dozens of media outpours of distress? Will you now ignore the brave and traumatized Jewish students, parents, staff, dignitaries, and human rights activists who spoke at the Rise Up Ottawa event?
Listen to the children. Your students. Hear them speak about their traumatic experiences while under your care. Children who braved the podium at Rise Up Ottawa to share the Jew-hatred they experience in your schools on a regular basis. We were shocked and appalled that this Jew-hatred has been allowed to flourish in the education system while nothing is being done to effectively counter the systematized nature of this antisemitism.
“Two of my friends found out that I was Jewish. What followed were messages like, ‘You're Jewish? Ew. We hate them. Kill all the Jews. ____’s family is from Germany, they have a gas chamber in their basement. Jews thought that gas chambers were actually showers. Can you believe that?’ * * * This experience made me feel sad, discriminated against, and separated from everyone. It made me feel like being Jewish was unsafe, or something to be ashamed of.” - Ron Dagan, Grade 7
“A boy made a Nazi flag out of paper and frantically waved it around the class screaming Heil Hitler. The teacher watched the whole thing, and said nothing. The boy continued to draw swastikas around the classroom for the rest of the year, without consequence.” - Leah Freedhoff, Grade 10
“As I walk to school every morning, I quickly tuck my Magen David necklace into my gold and purple hoodie because I am afraid. As I talk with a student whose parents insist that they not ever mention their Jewish identity at school, I am afraid. As I see a swastika carved on a chair in the auditorium, I am afraid. As I listen to my teacher show inaccurate videos that spread misinformation and hate towards Israel, I am afraid. As I walk down the hallway and see a student shove my Jewish friend into the lockers yelling f**cking Jew, I am afraid.” - Deena Friedman, Grade 12
“I had teachers who refused to remove tests from the holiest Jewish holidays, heard jokes about the Holocaust, and of course I witnessed and experienced a barrage of anti-Israel antisemitism after May of 2021.” - Talia Freedhoff, recent graduate
“In grade 10, I was excited to go to history class and finally have a chance to learn in-depth about the Holocaust and what my family has gone through. Unfortunately, I was extremely disappointed by how the teacher taught. His idea of an educational lesson was to recreate the Holocaust by hiding under tables, pretending it was a concentration camp. * * * The boys in my grade harassed me on Instagram chanting that there should be another Holocaust and all the Jews should be killed. * * * In my final year at LDH, I was scared to show my Star of David necklace, scared of my peers and most importantly, did not feel supported at this school.” - Ronnie Frenkel, recent graduate
Jewish children as young as three years old report being harassed, threatened, attacked, gaslighted, ignored, and dismissed. In just the last few days, we learned of another outrageous act of hate at Sir Robert Borden High School, traumatizing Jewish students by putting a swastika on display and repeating calls for genocide evoking the horrors of the Holocaust. We have also been told by impacted students that they are being forced to sit in class with the perpetrators.
Students under your care are being denied the most basic right to their identity. Their human rights are under attack in a way that no other minority group in Canada is experiencing. You are on notice that we will not allow this to continue. You have an obligation, grounded in law, to protect children from this assiduous discriminatory harm. You have an obligation, grounded in the morality of social justice, to empower your Jewish students, faculty, and staff to safely express their identity in whatever manner they choose as Jews, including as Zionists.
As the New Year starts in January 2023, we expect to see immediate action on the expectations we have collectively expressed through our Call to Action to #EndJewHatred in our schools.
Our human and civil rights are not up for debate. We will no longer sit in silence as children are oppressed by Jew-hatred in your schools. We demand action and accountability to make our schools safe spaces where Jews are fully included and respected, and can learn and grow into leaders shaping a future free of bigotry, racism, and Jew-hatred.
We will be in touch in the new year.
The End Jew Hatred Movement
cc: Stephen Lecce, Ontario Minister of Education
Dr. Ronen Hioffman, Embassy of Israel in Canada
Antisemitism Educators Alliance International
Antisemitism Educators Alliance of Canada
B’nai Brith Canada
The Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation
Canadians for Israel’s Legal Rights
Clean Speech Ottawa
Educators Against Antisemitism
End Jew Hatred
End Jew Hatred Canada
The Lawfare Project
Matas Law Society
Ottawa Against Antisemitism
Parents Against Antisemitism
Rise Up Ottawa
Stand With Us Canada