Backlash over Minnesota students’ Hitler-themed dance invite, Nazi salutes
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Backlash over Minnesota students’ Hitler-themed dance invite, Nazi salutes

Principal of Minnetonka High School says ‘deeply offensive’ incident will be taken seriously; local rabbi says Jewish students apprehensive about returning to school

Screenshot of the Minnesota high school students doing the Nazi salute with a Hitler-themed invitation to their school dance on January 2019. (screen capture: YouTube)
Screenshot of the Minnesota high school students doing the Nazi salute with a Hitler-themed invitation to their school dance on January 2019. (screen capture: YouTube)

Officials at a Minnesota high school wrote to parents after two students were pictured in a social media post doing a Nazi salute and holding a sign with references to Adolf Hitler.

Jeff Erikson, principal at suburban Minnetonka High School, said the “anti-Semitic media post…in no way aligns with our school’s core values” in his letter to parents on Thursday. “Please know that we take this matter seriously and are committed to ensuring a safe, positive environment for all students.”

The Minnesota Star Tribune reported the photo on a private Instagram account showed a teenage girl and boy doing the salute as they held an apparent invitation to the school’s annual Valentine’s Day dance called Sweethearts.

The newspaper reported the poster read: “Sweethearts would be a Hit(ler) w/you, and I could Nazi myself going w/anybody else. Be Mein? Yes or Nein.”

The girl posted the photo on her private Instagram account with the caption: “Also I would like to state I am not anti-semitic in any way, I hate all races equally.”

Members of the local Jewish community expressed outrage over the Hitler-themed invitation and Nazi salutes.

Screenshot of the Hitler-themed invitation to a high school dance made by a Minnesota student in January 2019. (screen capture: YouTube)

Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, said he was “deeply disturbed by the egregious anti-Semitic image circulating on social media.

“Such images both insult the memory of Hitler’s victims, as well as the heroic Minnesotans who fought to defeat Nazism,” Hunegs said in a statement.

Rabbi Tzvi Kupfer, adviser to the school’s Jewish Student Union (JSU), told the Star Tribune he was appalled by the post, and that many of his students were uneasy about returning to school.

“They said they just don’t feel safe going to school anymore,” he said. “This is not something that should be joked about.”

Though Kupfer has helped coordinate Holocaust education programs in the Minnetonka School district in the past, he said the poster incident showed that more was needed.

“Somewhere, somehow there was a disconnect,” Kupfer said. “Obviously it’s not talked about enough. This kind of thing reminds us … we need to do more.”

The principal reached out to local Jewish leaders for a meeting next week to discuss the incident.

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