It was extremely disappointing to see that Robert Wiener’s article, “Anti-Semitic graffiti defaces Caldwell playground,” (July 13) was absent of relevant facts related to the incident that occurred at Lincoln Elementary School. Stating incorrect facts such as “Police are still hunting for those who defaced the playground,” results in a mischaracterization of the Caldwell community and the actions of its police department. Furthermore, the mischaracterization inappropriately compares this situation to serious anti-Semitic crimes that have occurred in other parts of New Jersey (mentioned later in the article).
The graffiti was discovered on the morning of June 22 and by that same afternoon, the Caldwell Police Department already knew the parties (young teenagers) responsible for the act. The police took appropriate disciplinary action and were working with the school superintendent and juvenile prosecutor on educational proposals. In addition, after investigating this occurrence and the individuals involved, it was clear this incident was a function of misinformed, young teens and not a hate crime.
On the same day of the incident, the Caldwell Police Department contacted Congregation Agudath Israel (CAI), the Conservative synagogue and representative of the Jewish community in the area. The immediate communication was representative of the strong, cooperative relationship between the Caldwell Police and CAI. In addition, the superintendent of schools immediately contacted CAI, has implemented an ADL tolerance curriculum for years, and is a close friend of the Jewish community.
While the entire N.J. Jewish population should remain vigilant regarding anti-Semitic activity in our state and around the world, our journalists need to confirm their facts, accurately report the news, and avoid the collateral damage caused by over sensationalizing to accommodate alternative agendas. To create the false impression that Caldwell is experiencing an outbreak of widespread anti-Semitic vandalism is just not the case.
President, Congregation Agudath Israel