Anna C. Brenner
I wish to make the following correction and statement with regard to the incident which unhappily occurred in one of the schools in my field.
First, that this occurrence took place in a rural school near South Haven, Mich., and not in Benton Harbor. Secondly, I have not been informed of a similar condition elsewhere.
As this incident has gained a great deal of publicity, and the wrong city mentioned, I would appreciate the correction to be made through your paper.
A parent called me early one morning to come out and visit the public school near her home, for there was some trouble. I found many of the Jewish parents arguing with the teacher on the doorstep of the school. Some of the children were outdoors too although they should have been in school. I learned that all the Jewish children had been sent home the day before, to “clean up”, and the next day the teacher at the directors’ order had separated the Jews from the “whites”, to use her own words. When the parents came, they were told that there was a law which gave the teacher the right to separate the children thus. The parents were going to take their children home, but I advised against this, as I felt that the truancy law would be used against them.
Introducing myself to the teacher, as the Field Worker for the National Council of Jewish Women, I asked her if she were taught such methods in her normal school. Tearfully, she explained that her directors had ordered her to do this. I went to one of the directors and asked him, on behalf of the parents, to explain the order to the teacher. He denied having given the order. I threatened to go to the County Commissioner when the director refused to return with me to the school. When confronted by the teacher who asked him, “Didn’t you tell me to separate the Jews from the white?” the director replied, “Yes, but you had better put them back in their old seats.”
The incident was closed when I offered to inspect the children regularly, and give health and cleanliness talks. I now visit the school regularly.
Field Secretary, National Council of Jewish Women, Benton Harbor, Mich.
The Tifereth Israel Congregation of New Bedford, Mass., dedicated its synagogue. A book was published in connection with the dedication exercises.