Below are some steps you may want to take with your students in addressing antisemitism:
1. Check-in with yourself first: make sure you are processing the events and are in a good place to speak with your students. Consider speaking with a peer/colleague or a school counselor before addressing your class.
2. Find out what they know: for students in middle school and up, it is fair to assume they have heard or read something about recent antisemitic events.
3. Start with a conversation: allow students to express what they already know.
4. Gently correct misconceptions.
5. Encourage: create a safe space for students to ask questions and answer their questions as directly as you are able.
6. Discuss safety plans with them:
a. Help them to feel empowered: identify adults in school and in the community they can go to if they are feeling insecure.
b. Talk to them about what is being done in your community to ensure safety: security guards, communal safety plans, etc.
7. Put it into context:
a. For younger children – Read age-appropriate books and stories with them to spark discussions, such as The Sneetches and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss, Whoever You Are by Mem Fox, and Kindness Snippet Jar by Diane Alber; or, role-play ways to speak sensitively to others. Keep it simple – “There have been some very sad events over the last few weeks for the Jewish people. Have you heard about anything that has happened?”
b. For middle/high school – Provide a historical context and help them see that throughout history both antisemitism and Jewish survival/renewal have been a constant. Through everything, good people took a stand and made a difference.
8. Be honest: consider sharing your own feelings/fears (at an age-appropriate level). It is also ok to say “I don’t know.” No need to guess or give a simple answer to a complicated question — model how to find out together.
9. Take action:
a. Students may want to write letters of comfort and support to victims and families of victims.
b. Don’t ignore the spiritual (if it is appropriate) – prayer and reflection can help students to feel connected and not alone.
c. Older students can get involved politically by writing letters to representatives/senators or to local ADL chapters here.
d. Bring in speakers from ADL.
10. Possible lesson plans for high school:
a. Writing prompts (can be used with graffiti boards or S-I-T technique).
b. What questions do you have about the events that have happened over the last few weeks?
c. How have these events affected you, your family, your community, and the larger Jewish world?
11. What would you do? Talk about some of the less violent scenarios that have happened – antisemitic slurs in grocery stores, graffiti on synagogues, defamation of graves in Jewish cemeteries – ask students what they would do if those things happened to them? What would they do if they happened to one of their friends? If they saw it happening?