A walk out in support of Palestine has been planned by Teaneck High School students for Wednesday, November 29, prompting a campaign from parents and Teaneck residents to ask the Board of Education to consider banning such an event in order to prevent Jewish students from feeling intimidated or bullied on campus. On Tuesday, November 28, the Teaneck Board of Education doubled down in support of the walk out, which was initially publicized on the students’ social media, citing the students’ First Amendment rights and ensuring that it would be a “peaceful demonstration.”
Since the Board of Education’s letter addressing the planned walk out, many community leaders have stepped forward to demand its cancellation. “The superintendent and school board should be taken to task for promoting hate and division,” wrote CEO of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey Jason Shames on LinkedIn. “Their positions and intentions on the Jewish community are clear and offensive. Would students be encouraged to let the KKK or another hate group march? There is a double standard on hate and fostering students to be co-opted should be seen as unacceptable.”
A total of 13 Teaneck rabbis signed an open letter urging the entire community to join together in opposition of the walk out, which they described as a “blood libel.”
Dear Parents and Students,
As educators and communal members deeply invested in the welfare and growth of all students in our community, we are concerned about a decision made by the Teaneck Public Schools to approve a “student walkout” in the middle of the school day in support of a purported “genocide” taking place in Gaza. This is scheduled to happen tomorrow at Teaneck High School at 1:30pm.
We understand and appreciate the desire and need for students to express themselves, especially in response to global events that stir their passions and shape their worldviews.
However, we must also acknowledge the limitations that exist within the school environment. Recent rallies, unfortunately, have taken an alarming turn, with instances of antisemitism and violence that we must not ignore. The walkout at Hillcrest High School, for example, escalated into a violent incident against a Jewish teacher. This event, described as a “vile show of antisemitism” by New York City Mayor Eric Adams, was horrifying. We have also noted the antisemitic undertones in rallies across the nation that were pro-Palestinian, including calls for violence and blatant antisemitism. Given these recent events, we do not believe that this is the appropriate time or place for a walkout demonstration at Teaneck High School. No one should be permitted to ignore the context of antisemitism that has been promoted during these rallies.
By allowing this rally during school hours, the Superintendent has allowed the Teaneck Public Schools to become an environment where Jewish students’ safety is at risk. New Jersey Public Schools MUST be safe environments for all students. No student events ought to be permitted if any constituency is targeted, attacked, threatened, or intimidated. We never thought that Jewish students in Teaneck, New Jersey would be afraid to attend school.
There will be a community rally tonight at 8pm at the Municipal Green in Teaneck. We strongly advise all community members to attend, along with their age-appropriate children. This will be a meaningful moment to stand together against antisemitism and violence. Let us continue to work together to stand with Israel and to ensure that Teaneck High School remains a safe and inclusive environment for Jewish students and all students.
Rabbi Daniel Alter, The Moriah School
Rabbi Eli Ciner, Yeshivat Frisch
Steve Freedman, Schechter Bergen
Rabbi Chaim Hagler, Yeshivat Noam
Rabbi Joshua Kahn, Torah Academy of Bergen County
Rabbi Jonathan Knapp, Yavneh Academy
Mrs. Deena Kobre, Naaleh High School for Girls
Mrs. CB Neugroschl, Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School for Girls
Rabbi Daniel Price, Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey
Rabbi Tomer Ronen, Yeshivat He’Atid
Mrs. Orite Rubenstein, Tenafly Chabad Academy
Rav Aryeh Stechler, Heichal HaTorah
Rabbi Saul Zucker, Ben Porat Yosef