The Patriot Ledger: Milton rabbi grateful for community support after incident

Rabbi Alfred Benjamin of Temple Beth Shalom of the Blue Hills said he and his congregation are grateful for the support they have received from the community following a second incident where swastikas were found in boys’ bathrooms at the Pierce Middle School.

By Fred Hanson
The Patriot Ledger

MILTON – The spiritual leader of the town’s Jewish congregation said he is grateful for the support they have received after swastikas were drawn in bathrooms at a middle school.

Rabbi Alfred Benjamin of Temple Beth Shalom of the Blue Hills said they are receiving “tremendous support” from the town’s selectmen, school committee, school administration as well as local clergy and their congregations.

“Everyone is on board that this does nor reflect the character of this town,” Rabbi Benjamin said.

On Wednesday, graffiti swastikas were found in the Grade 6 and Grade 8 boys’ bathrooms of the Pierce Middle School.

It was the second such incident in three months at the school. Back in December, swastikas were found in boys’ bathrooms at the school. A student responsible for the drawings was identified and disciplined, school officials said.

Rabbi Benjamin said it is too early too classify these incidents as anti-Semitism.

“We have an act, but we don’t know why they did it,” he said.

Rabbi Benjamin said he is working on a “constructive response” to the incident, one that would be both thoughtful and effective. He said this process would take some time.

In a letter to Rabbi Benjamin, the selectmen and Town Administrator Michael Dennehy expressed their “sorrow and concern about this terrible incident” to his congregation.

“We are saddened that this troubling incident, which we condemn, has now occurred for the second time in a few months,” the letter stated.

The Milton Police Department is investigating the incident.

“We are confident that the Milton Police and the Milton School Department will take all appropriate actions to investigate the situation thoroughly and discipline the person(s) responsible,” the selectmen and town administrator wrote.

They noted that Milton is a “No Place for Hate” community, and the town’s leaders “remain committed to fostering respect, diversity and inclusion in Milton.”

The letter concluded, “we are thinking of you and the members of your congregation and we stand with you.”

School Superintendent Mary Gormley said the school system’s takes incidents like this “extremely seriously” and promised a thorough investigation. She also pledged to take “every appropriate action to deter further occurrences of this type.”

This article originally appeared in The Patriot Ledger, March 10, 2017. View original article here.