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In Yom Kippur address, Jon Ossoff condemns antisemitism at Georgia high schools

Local officials call ‘Heil Hitler’ and swastika graffiti hate speech, but not antisemitic

Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., speaks during a Senate Judiciary hearing on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Washington. (Saul Loeb/Pool via AP)
Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., speaks during a Senate Judiciary hearing on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Washington. (Saul Loeb/Pool via AP)

JTA — Democrat Senator Jon Ossoff spoke at an Atlanta synagogue on Yom Kippur to denounce two incidents of antisemitic graffiti at local high schools.

At the onset of the holy day on Wednesday, a high school in Cobb County, next to Atlanta, reported that someone had graffitied a swastika and “Heil Hitler” on a bathroom door, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Similar graffiti was found at another nearby high school just days earlier.

The school district did not condemn either incident as antisemitism, instead calling it “hateful graffiti” or “hate speech.”

Ossoff, 34, the freshman Democratic senator from Georgia, told worshippers at the Reform Temple Emanu-El on Yom Kippur that his reaction to the graffiti was informed by the memory of the Holocaust.

Ossoff said his generation was raised “with the words ‘Never Forget’ pressed into our minds.”

“So when at Pope High School in Marietta, Georgia, a swastika and a tribute to Adolf Hitler are scrawled on school walls … it must inflame in us the same passion for the survival of our people that burned in the hearts of the generation that emerged from the Shoah and built a future for the Jewish people here in America, around the world, and the Land of Israel,” he said, according to the Journal-Constitution.

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