The widely reported anti-Semitic bullying incidents at two Melbourne government schools last week were an unfortunate reminder that there continues to be vilification of our community. The incidents were all the more shocking because children were involved. We need to speak out strongly against these occurrences, to ensure a swift and determined response by both schools and government, and to prevent similar events occurring in the future. Anti-Semitic incidents such as these have no part in Australia’s tolerant and multicultural society.
We express our sympathy and understanding to the children and families involved: UJEB is here to offer any support that they may need. We also fully stand behind other Jewish community organisations that are responding to these incidents.
UJEB represents the Jewish community in Victorian government schools. Although we do not currently run programs in either of the schools involved in these incidents, we are now working in 26 Melbourne government schools. As such, we have strong relationships with both the Victorian Department of Education and Training, and school principals. Parents can always call on UJEB for support should incidents like these occur in the future.
UJEB’s mission is to build a strong and meaningful Jewish future, by providing quality Jewish educational experiences to students in non-Jewish schools. Although it is not a guarantee against bullying, schools that include UJEB usually celebrate cultural diversity. UJEB’s programs are always supported by the school administration and parent-led school councils, which promotes tolerance and inclusion within school communities. Our programs encourage Jewish students to feel proud of their heritage, and help them to feel a sense of acceptance and belonging in their schools.
Together with other Jewish organisations, UJEB will this week be meeting with the Victorian Education Minister, who has ordered an immediate review into the responses of the schools involved. We fully support his statement made on Twitter last week, that anti-Semitism is not to be tolerated in our schools, and that “Every child should feel safe and happy when they are at school.” This echoes UJEB’s highest priority, and we will do all that we can to ensure that this is the case.
Itzik Sztokman, Executive Principal
Gabi Crafti, President