A Jewish teacher at Lincoln School in Fairview, N.J. recently came across a strange sight in the hallway: a poster filled with swastikas, Israeli flags drawn on, and pictures of Jewish children with their faces crossed out.
The poster, it turns out, was part of a sixth-grade assignment for students after reading Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars, a work of historical fiction commonly used to introduce young readers to the Holocaust. The collage, however, apparently lacked any sort of context about the assignment or explanation about what the students intended to convey. After the teacher complained, the superintendent ordered the poster be taken down, NJ.com reports.
“It’s highly offensive to anybody, especially someone who is Jewish and whose family members were survivors of the Holocaust,” said the Jewish staff member who requested that the poster be removed. While the faculty member claims the district was at first hesitant to remove the poster, Fairview school officials maintain they took it down immediately after they realized the offensive content of the display.
According to the teacher of the 6th grade class, students were in the process of writing essays explaining the significance of their posters. The decontextualized posters, however, went up before this part of the project was complete.
“I run across this every once in a while, where one sector of our population is offended, and we always try to compromise,” Fairview Superintendent Louis DeLisio told NJ.com. “We’re not trying to offend anyone… my true feeling is they (the students) did not have any ill-intention with this poster. They were trying to depict things that were prohibited during the Holocaust.”
“I think it’s a learning process for everyone,” he added.
Hannah Dreyfus is an editorial intern at Tablet.