Jewish Journal


Posted on Sep. 30, 2004 at 8:00 pm

Conejo Anti-Semitism Suit in Courts

Attorneys representing the Jewish teenager who has sued the Conejo Valley Unified School District (CSUSD) over alleged anti-Semitic behavior will meet on Oct. 22 in state court, while a lawyer for the boy's former coach meets next month in federal court over the same case.

The parents of former Newbury Park High School student Sam Goldstein filed a federal lawsuit against the district on May 26. For the past two years, they allege, the district was indifferent to Sam's teammates and coach allegedly taunting him with anti-Semitic remarks. The Goldsteins have moved out of the school district.

Over the summer, Sam's attorneys moved the lawsuit's claims against the district to state court, accusing Conejo educators of negligence and violation of the state educational code. The case against John Mardsen, Goldstein's coach at Newbury Park High School, stays in federal court where the lawsuit alleges that Sam's baseball and football coach violated his civil rights and in March 2003 allegedly "told Sam that 'God didn't like him, because he was a Jew.'" The coach no longer works for the district; attorneys in that case have a federal court status meeting in November.

CSUSD Superintendent Robert Fraisse told The Journal that while "there's room for discussion and mediation," about prior anti-Semitic behavior, the district rejects the notion that it was specifically responsible for alleged actions by part-time coach Marsden and athletes. Goldstein's lawsuit claims he endured anti-Semitic taunts by teammates at an off-campus birthday party.

"It was a community issue," said Fraisse, who worked with school officials and Ventura County Sheriff's Department officers to probe a possible hate crime at the January 2003 birthday party, where Goldstein allegedly endured a "concentration camp" game with teammates.

While Ventura County authorities did not gather enough evidence for a criminal case, Goldstein family attorney Wayne Flick said that in regards to stopping the alleged anti-Semitism, "I think it's fair to say that what they [school officials] did was not enough."

Fraisse said no Conejo district student has reported any anti-Semitic behavior in this new school year. He said one development arising from the Goldstein case is that the district is "spending a lot more" time and resources in behavior training of part-time, "walk-on" coaches. – David Finnigan, Contributing Writer

White Supremacists Target Youth With CD

The Anti Defamation League (ADL) has alerted school districts across the country about Panzerfaust Records' Project Schoolyard USA, a hate rock CD distribution effort.

Panzerfaust Records is a neo-Nazi music label based in Newport, Minn., whose slogan is "Panzerfaust: We don't just entertain racist kids... We create them." According to its Web site, Panzerfaust is "pressing 100,000 copies of a pro-White sampler CD to be handed out to White youth ... in every state."

The Project Schoolyard USA CD features songs like "Commie Scum," "White Supremacy" and "Hate Train Rolling," and its target audience is middle and high school children, ages 13 to 19. The aim of the CD is to "introduce [kids] to White Nationalism through the musical medium."

Since learning of the campaign several weeks ago, the ADL sent out a bulletin to school officials nationwide and explained the campaign's goals. It also set up an "educator's alert" on its Web site to help school officials and parents better identify the symbols and warning signs commonly associated with hate music. Since the CDs are protected under the laws of free speech, they cannot be banned.

"Once again, the hate groups are finding ways to repackage their old-fashioned hatred and anti-Semitism into new, more deceptively attractive forms that can appeal to a younger audience," said Abraham Foxman, ADL's national director. "Instead of handing out leaflets on street corners, they are creating video games and CDs and Web sites whose aim is to attract children by at first concealing their real agenda and message." – Gaby Wenig, Staff Writer

Conference Explores Retaining Youth

Scholars and clergy will explore how religious institutions can attract and retain young people at a conference Oct. 10-11 at USC. "Faith, Fear & Indifference" will bring together Jews, Christians and Muslims to examine the challenges to religious adherence posed by American society in the 21st century.

"Unlike most conferences, where speakers' presentations may not relate to one another, the participants in this gathering have been in touch with one another," said Diane Winston, Knight chair in media and religion at USC's Annenberg School for Communication. Winston will wrap up the discussion with her closing remarks.

"The conference seeks to connect empirical research and institutional life. In that way it can enrich both scholars and religious professionals," Winston said.

Rabbi J. Rolando "Roly" Matalon will speak about his phenomenally successful Congregation B'nai Jeshurun in Manhattan, which draws more than 2,000 more people to its Friday night services. Sociologist Philip Schwadel of the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill will discuss the community and religious trends of Jewish teenagers.

Included among the dozen other scheduled speakers are sociologists Nancy Ammerman of Boston University and Christian Smith of UNC. Brother John, a Taizé monk, will talk about youth involvement in the Taizé Community, founded in France in 1940.

Conference sponsors include Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Omar Ibn Al Khattab Foundation, The Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies, USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture, USC College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture.

For more information and to register, go to www.ifacs.com/conference/ or call The Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies at (213) 741-1410. – Sarah Price Brown, Contributing Writer

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