Education brings understanding


Dear Jones Community,


As Jewish students at Jones, we are shocked and disturbed by the recent actions of antisemitism within our school community and feel the need to speak up in this time of hate.

Jones’ Halloween festivities, intended to spur amusement and cheer in the student body, instead brought the latest occurrence of bigotry and hate to the school community. There should be absolutely no tolerance for any form of hate, and the fact that we feel so mortified in what should be a safe space is appalling. 

We are students who are fortunate enough to have spent an entire year in middle school studying the Holocaust and wish others could have received similar education. As the descendants of Holocaust survivors, we recognize the importance of learning about our history and utilizing that knowledge to stop hate against all groups of people in our communities. We read Night by Elie Wiesel, completed year-long projects, and learned from Holocaust survivors about their experiences, which taught us the necessity of learning about this tragic time period. However, not everyone received this education, even though it’s mandated by Illinois state law. 

The consequences of not undergoing Holocaust education are substantial and cannot be overlooked. A study of Millennials and Gen Z by Claims Conference, an organization that seeks reparations for Holocaust survivors, found that 54% of Illinois residents couldn’t name a concentration camp or ghetto, and 59% didn’t know the Holocaust killed six million Jews. After speaking with many peers, we learned that there is little Holocaust education within Jones lesson plans despite a state law that mandates its inclusion in curriculums. 

We strongly urge Jones teachers to consider ways they can weave Jewish education into their lesson plans. We also urge students to do their own research, perhaps by visiting the Illinois Holocaust Museum, using the Anti-Defamation League’s BINAH program, or attending Jewish Student Connection. Don’t hesitate to start an open conversation with peers and learn about their culture and experience. 

The event that occurred on Halloween is not a standalone event.  Some teachers at Jones neglected and derided students and colleagues’ requests for light coursework on the high holidays this year. Many non-religious private schools and suburban public schools in the Chicagoland area give students off for the holidays. Additionally, through talking to members of the Jones community, we recognize a lack of education on Jewish stereotypes and on the physical definition of antisemitism. Antisemitism is defined as hostility or prejudice against Jewish people. We believe that an increased amount of education surrounding the Holocaust and other genocides will prevent acts of antisemitism, along with other acts of hatred, from occurring in our community. 

To the Jones administration, while we understand you have a lot of competing interests and have to work within CPS rules and regulations, we hope you will join us in solidarity in continuing to work to make Jones a safe place for Jewish students. Please help us instill better Jewish education into curriculums and respond more aggressively to antisemitism in our community. 

To the Jones community, we appreciate the outpour of support we have received. It’s incredibly powerful to know we have a strong community behind us as we work to eradicate antisemitism and hatred from both our school community and our greater society. We encourage you to continue educating yourselves on the history of marginalized groups and to use your voice to stand up against hatred toward all demographics. 

To the Jones Jewish community, we fight alongside you as we work to eradicate antisemitism from our school. We urge you to educate your peers on our religion and culture and to stand up against hatred and bigotry in all forms. We hope to work with you as we create solutions toward preventing future acts such as what occurred on Monday and hope to hear your concerns and ideas toward creating change.



Gabi Josefson, Celia Pincus, Jason Bernstein, & Dean Goldman

The Jewish Editors of the Jones Blueprint