Duxbury (Massachusetts) High School's football team is under investigation for perpetuating anti-Semitism by using terms related to Jewish people and the Holocaust as play calls during games.
"As our investigation continues to unfold, it has become clear that members of the Duxbury High School football team did in fact use anti-Semitic and potentially other inappropriate and derogatory language," superintendent John Antonucci said in a statement. "We have been in touch with many members of the community, parents, and the Anti-Defamation League regarding the seriousness of the allegations. We are continuing our investigation and will have further comment at a later time."
"Auschwitz," "Rabbi" and "Dreidel" were among the words used for audibles by the football team, per New England's Anti-Defamation League (h/t Analis Bailey of USA Today).
"We are shocked and offended at these allegations of anti-Semitism and we call for a full-scale independent investigation," ADL New England regional director Robert Trestan said in a statement, per Bailey. "It is deeply hurtful to the Jewish community to learn that plays on the field were connected to the Holocaust and Judaism. There are indications of a systemic failure both on and off the field. We are working with Duxbury officials as this investigation proceeds."
Auschwitz was a death camp operated in Nazi Germany-occupied Poland during the Holocaust. More than 1.1 million of the 1.3 million people imprisoned at the camp were killed, including nearly 1 million Jewish people. Playing with a dreidel, a four-sided top, is a tradition that takes place during Hanukkah. A Rabbi is a spiritual leader in the Jewish religion.
Bailey reported Dansbury used the anti-Semitic audibles during a March 12 game against Plymouth North High School. Head coach Dave Maimaron has been removed from his position amid the investigation.
"On behalf of the staff and players of the Duxbury High School football team, I want to extend my apology for the insensitive, crass and inappropriate language used in the game on March 12th," Maimaron said. "Using the term was careless, unnecessary and most importantly hurtful on its face—inexcusable."
The team's use of the anti-Semitic language comes at a time when anti-Semitism is spiking in the United States. After decreasing over the previous 15 years, anti-Semitic hate and violence began to increase in 2016, per the Anti-Defamation League. In 2019, the ADL recorded the highest number of anti-Semitic acts in one year (2,107) since it began tracking them in 1979, and anti-Semitic hate crimes increased by 14 percent.
Per the American Jewish Committee, the 2019 FBI Hate Crimes Statistics Report found that 60 percent of religious hate crimes were committed against Jewish people, despite making up less than 2 percent of the population. Anti-Semitic acts also go underreported—a survey completed by the AJC in 2020 found that 76 percent of respondents didn't report the anti-Semitism they experienced.