"Toasted Jew" written in chalk on a sidewalk at Carlton High School in Belmont
"Toasted Jew" written in chalk on a sidewalk at Carlmont High School in Belmont

Swastikas, anti-Jewish shouts at Belmont high school

A series of recent anti-Semitic incidents at Carlmont High School in Belmont has shaken the Jewish community on the Peninsula and prompted a meeting with school officials, according to people familiar with the matter.

Numerous instances of anti-Semitic graffiti have been discovered on and around school property, several parents told J. A school sidewalk was scrawled with the words “toasted Jew” in chalk alongside a Star of David.

Alarmed, about 20 parents met with Carlmont Principal Ralph Crame on March 15. One of the parents reported that on her way to the meeting, she heard a group of students yell at her daughter, “Here’s a Jew, let’s burn her.”

The Belmont Police Department did not return telephone messages seeking comment.

Carlmont student Sarah Selman expressed concern that social tension following the election of Donald Trump, has taken root in her high school.

While anti-Semitic acts have occurred in the past, Selman said, bullying is something new.

“I’ve also seen some anti-Semitism at Carlmont, particularly when there are conflicts in Gaza and Israel,” she said. “Whenever I hear it, it’s always in the hallways. It’s never said around teachers.”

Both the Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish Community Relations Council are aware of the incidents and have offered assistance to the school, but Carlmont has not taken additional action as of Thursday.

“It’s unclear after the meeting with the principal what the strategy is there,” said Sarah Fields, public affairs and civic engagement manger at the Jewish Community Relations Council.

Seth Brysk, regional director at the ADL said that anti-Semitic activity occurs at schools “a lot” and that since hate is a behavior that’s learned, it can also be unlearned. “It’s a teachable moment,” he said.

Crame said in an email message that the school “followed up very quickly” after the incidents were reported.

“We identified the students and took appropriate action,” Crame wrote. “I consulted with the District office to ensure we were in alignment with district policy, procedures, and guidelines.

An emailed statement from Sequoia Union High School District Superintendent James Lianides said the school had taken “appropriate follow-up action” in regard to specific incidents.

Carlmont also issued a statement that teachers were required to read to their students. Obtained by J., the text reminds students of the school’s policies on discrimination and says violations will be interpreted as “harassment, bullying, or hate crimes and will be dealt with accordingly under District policies and the Education Code.”

Selman said she wished the school’s administration was more transparent when communicating with the student body about the incidents. “They told us a bit about what happened,” she said. “But they didn’t mention it was anti-Semitic.”

She worries that keeping the students in the dark may lead to apathy. “If you don’t know how serious something is, you’re not going to care about why it’s happening,” Selman added.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story reported that students shouted “Kill the Jews” in the school stadium. Several sources have noted that did not occur.

max cherney
Max A. Cherney

Max A. Cherney is a staff writer at J. He can be reached at max@jweekly.com.