Sparks fly over promoted fireman’s comments


NEW YORK (JTA) — Members of a northern New Jersey Jewish community will rally to protest the promotion of a fireman they say has made remarks hostile to Jews.

Norman Tahan, slated to become the City of Clifton’s deputy fire chief in a ceremony Monday afternoon, is alleged to have referred to Jews as "dogs" in an online forum. The Jewish community is planning to rally opposite City Hall that afternoon.

Steve Goldberg, one of the men organizing the protest, told JTA that Tahan has said "horrible things, racist things" over the years. Tahan also has called the heavily Jewish Rosemawr neighborhood "a city of child-haters," Goldberg said, for attempting to block the construction of a school on the site of a park.

In comments made to the The Record newspaper of Hackensack, Tahan said he hopes his record as a fireman would be considered.

"My performance as a firefighter has been nothing short of exemplary," he told the New Jersey daily.

City Manager Albert Greco said Tahan has served Clifton as a fireman for 15 or more years without any complaints regarding his service.

Concerning the allegations of anti-Semitism, Greco said he believes Tahan has made amends.

"I don’t know exactly what was said, but he did make an apology," said Greco, adding that the remark may have been "misconstrued as being inflammatory."

Goldberg said he has spoken with Clifton officials who agree that Tahan’s past actions were objectionable but told him Tahan was the only applicant who met the requirements for the deputy chief position.

"We’ve kind of been told the promotion can’t be stopped," he said. "[The rally] is to raise awareness."

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