Ridgewood High School, a place that prides itself on inclusivity and tolerance, was struck by an alarming incident early last month. On Monday, December 3, the faculty discovered a swastika and a Star of David drawn in one of the girls’ bathroom stalls. The following day, Dr. Gorman, Principal of Ridgewood High School, informed students and parents of the incident via email, sharing his concerns and condemning any kind of discrimination at the school. He states in the email, “We appreciate and embrace the diversity of our student body and believe we are stronger because of that diversity. We all must work together to ensure that RHS is a place where everyone feels accepted and valued for who they are.” These words serve as a reminder to the Jewish residents of Ridgewood that they are accepted, and this hate will not go unpunished.
The Ridgewood Police were immediately informed about the incident and are now investigating. With cameras installed throughout the hallways, photographic evidence could possibly give the police and the RHS administration a lead on the suspect. As of now, the culprit(s) has not yet come forward and confessed their wrongdoings. Students have turned to speculation, creating a guessing game of who could have done such a thing and what will happen to them. One senior at Ridgewood High School is baffled about this hate crime. “I can’t believe someone in our school could commit such an act. I hate knowing that it could be someone I know or see on a day-to-day basis.” There are no public updates as of now, but the administration is working to find the culprit(s).
After discussing the matter with peers and fellow classmates, it is evident that most of the student body is dumbfounded by the intentions of this act. The looming question seems to be, was the graffiti an anti-Semitic attack, or was it intended to be a harmless, though extremely derogatory, twisted joke? One junior at Ridgewood High School, whose name will remain anonymous out of respect, has their own opinion on the subject. “I find it hard to believe that someone today in this community truly supports anti-Semitic groups. This was in no way funny and was taken hundreds of steps too far but I believe it as a joke. That does not mean it should be treated as a joke, however.” Another Ridgewood scholar, also a junior, maintains a similar position but is not willing to disregard it as a simple laugh. “If someone is going as far as to literally damage school property, it clearly is more than just a joke to them. It doesn’t matter if they thought it was funny or not, it was an attack.” Clearly, most people find this act offensive and believe it should be handled seriously by the administration.
This incident has had a profound impact on the RHS community. It serves as a reminder that hate against religious groups, whether it be a prank or not, cannot be tolerated or taken lightly. Hopefully, nothing like this will happen again at RHS and the person responsible will be brought to justice.
James Ellinghaus and Katie Hu
Graphic: Sofia Lee