French teacher terminated after classroom anti-Semitism is made public

(JTA) — A school in France terminated the employment of a teacher shortly after she complained about anti-Semitic behavior by her students.

Lyonmag.com, a news site, reported that the teacher’s contract at the Condorcet secondary school in Saint-Priest, a southern suburb of Lyon, was terminated on Nov. 28, following the publication of an open letter about her written by Lyon’s chief rabbi, Richard Wertenschlag.

Wertenschlag published the “worried” letter about the teacher, who is in the process of converting to Judaism, in the Bulletin de Tilsitt, a local publication. The rabbi wrote that she had told him her students repeatedly insulted her in connection with her conversion.

The teacher, who attends Lyon’s Quai Tilsitt Grand Synagogue, reportedly told the rabbi that students started harassing her during the High Holidays. She said one student told her, “We don’t want a Jewish teacher.” Later, students repeatedly disrupted her class and confronted her on “Jewish imperialism” and “Israeli land theft,” the news site reported.

The report in Lyonmag did not say whether the termination of the teacher’s contract was connected to the anti-Semitic incidents. The news site quoted an unnamed source at the ministry as saying that the teacher has been interviewed for an unspecified “academic position” that she may soon accept.

A spokesperson for the French Education Ministry told the news site that the students who insulted the teacher because of her faith had been “disciplined” and that guidelines will be discussed “for those teachers who cannot teach because of their religious faith.”

Wertenschlag said the ministry’s behavior reflected “an attempt to ignore reality based on pedagogical reasons,” according to Lyonmag.

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