No hate written in scrabble tiles, antisemitism on cape cod

When I heard about antisemitic graffiti in Falmouth this winter, I reflected on the Holocaust workshops, seminars, and graduate classes that I’ve taken over the past decade as an 8th-grade teacher in the suburbs of Boston. I’ve taught hundreds of students about the dangers of antisemitism, the horrors of concentration camps, and the difficulties survivors faced after World War II. I was grateful for survivors who visited my school and spoke to students about their experiences. How can antisemitism be an issue on Cape Cod in 2024? And what can I do now, as a mom, to ensure my child grows up in a place that is accepting of all people?

As I was researching for this article, I was alarmed to see that similar incidents occurred here in recent years, with an editorial in the Falmouth Enterprise written on the subject in 2023. I was also glad to find a local community organization, No Place for Hate Falmouth. Their mission is to combat bias through hosting events to bring awareness and education to the community. 

One could look at the schools, at the businesses, at the residents, and ask, who is to blame for acts of hate? Why is this happening? But rather than blame, let’s work to ensure it doesn’t continue to happen in the future. We know that children learn the most at home. Parents are the first teachers. Parents are the consistent adults whose moral compass guides their child’s developing sense of right and wrong. So it is us, the parents, who can be the best teachers of acceptance, tolerance, and love. 

What are some steps you can take to combat antisemitism on Cape Cod?

1. Talk about it. Using age-appropriate language, explain to your child when a hateful experience occurs. Hearing about it from you first ensures that they will hear the truth and understand the context if they happen to hear about it somewhere else.

2. Be vocal about acceptance and tolerance. Show your child how you accept people who are different from you, and how we can be kind to everyone. Children learn so much from our modeling.

3. Read books and watch movies with your child. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne is recommended for children ages 9+ and is easily accessible to younger readers. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is beautifully written and more appropriate for teenagers, always a favorite of my 8th grade students. Both of these books have movies that would be impactful to be watched together as a family.

4. Stand up against hate. When incidents of hate occur in your community, take an active stance against them through your words and actions. Two Falmouth High School students, sister and brother Sadie and Max Inman, created this public service announcement for their classmates. Show your support for those who stand up against hate.

Let’s work together to create environments where all children and people are safe and accepted. In doing so, we can make antisemitism an issue of the past on Cape Cod. 


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