After I heard the story I looked up the number of students in the school. There were over 1,000.00. Probably not all of them would have seen the symbol on the wall. But even if just a third of the children saw it, only one took action.
His name is Nate, a sixth grader and a student in our Hebrew School preparing for his Bar Mitzvah.
When Nate passed by the quilt hanging on the wall, he knew the swastika shouldn't be there, not in his middle school, not anywhere! He told me that it made him feel bad, of bring hated by the Nazis.
I asked if anyone else mentioned it to him. “Only one,” he said. His friend said to him, “Did you see that?” But that was all that happened. His friend didn’t take action as he did. Nate had no question in his mind. He needed to tell his parents.
When Nate’s parents called us, we all adamantly agreed that they should contact the principal. What was most disturbing is that the hanging quilt had no explanation of why a picture of Hitler and the swastika was there. Nate told me he knew the quilt was about famous people. Jackie Robins was there and so was the Dali Lama.
As adults looking at a picture of the quilt, we immediately understood that the swastika and picture of Hitler was being used to show what Simon Wiesental, a famous Nazi hunter, was fighting against. That section was even created by a Jewish child. So yes, we applauded this choice of Simon Wiesenthal being displayed. But as Rabbi David said, including the swastika was in poor taste. It still radiates out a message of hate. The child just needed to be appropriately guided.
Nate’s parents had a meeting with the principal the next day. When they walked into the office the quilt was on the conference table. The principal told them he had it taken down immediately. It had no place being on the wall. He even scoured the school and found another sign with Hitler and a paragraph which was immediately taken down. He was extremely apologetic.
We are all so proud of Nate! He had a chance to share his experience with the Hebrew School children which led to a beautiful discussion.
And so now I share his experience with you. May Nate inspire us all to be guided by our hearts and speak up when needed! Only then can we ensure “Never Again!” Only then can we truly create a World of Peace, a World of Love!