(JTA) — A Boston-area Catholic boys’ school apologized for some of its students chanting an anti-Semitic taunt at a basketball game with a predominantly Jewish public high school.
“You killed Jesus,” students from Catholic Memorial School in West Roxbury, Massachusetts, shouted Friday night during a game with Newton North High School.
In response, the Newton fans fell silent in shock and anger, the Boston Globe reported.
The city of Newton, a Boston suburb, is about one-third Jewish.
“Catholic Memorial School is deeply disturbed by the behavior of a group of student spectators who made an unacceptable chant Friday night while playing Newton North High School,” Catholic Memorial President Peter Folan said in a statement the day after. “Catholic Memorial School believes deeply that intolerance, of any kind, is unacceptable. We apologize for the actions of our students and we will continue to strenuously address this issue within our community.”
The Catholic Memorial students were reprimanded and each personally apologized to the principal and shook his hand, according to the Globe.
Newton Superintendent David Fleishman, who arrived after the anti-Semitic chants, but learned about them from parents in the stand, called the statement “chilling.”
“In my mind, this is incredibly upsetting and troubling, and they have a lot of work to do at Catholic Memorial,” Fleishman told the Boston Globe.
Fleishman said he contacted the Anti-Defamation League about the incident, which Newton students would discuss at school on Monday. The ADL said it would work with both schools in the wake of the incident.
Fleishman also acknowledged that Newton students made offensive statements about the fact that no girls attend Catholic Memorial.
Catholic Memorial beat Newton North, 77-73, in a division championship game.
The chanting came one day after Cardinal Sean O’Malley, speaking at Temple Emanuel in Newton, called for Catholics and Jews to “build a civilization of love.”
In a statement issued Saturday, the archdiocese called the chant “unacceptable” and said the incident presented an opportunity to promote “an important learning experience” for the students, the Boston Globe reported.
A Newton middle school has been the target of at least three incidents of anti-Semitic graffiti since October, including one last month. Parents were not notified promptly of the first two incidents, for which the school’s principal has apologized.