May 5—Daniel Dorsch, the rabbi at Congregation Etz Chaim, said multiple congregants informed him this week that a swastika was found drawn on a bathroom wall at Mt. Bethel Elementary in east Cobb.
"Of course, this is sad whenever it happens," Dorsch said. "It's also an opportunity to promote education, because when things like this happen in elementary school, it's usually from a place of ignorance more than anything else."
In a letter to the school community, Principal Tucker Smith said staff discovered an antisemitic image drawn by a student on Wednesday, immediately removed it and began an investigation into the incident.
"As a reminder to students and their families, this destructive behavior is against our school policies and can come with severe repercussions," Smith wrote. "Please help us to reinforce appropriate behavior, to treat each other kindly, and to respect others as well as our school building and property."
Dorsch told the MDJ Friday he will meet with Smith Monday to discuss the vandalism at Mt. Bethel Elementary.
"It's an opportunity as a rabbi to go to the school and meet with the classrooms and maybe read some stories and talk," Dorsch said, though he won't know what the follow-up will look like until Monday's meeting.
He added Smith seems to have handled the situation well, and he looks forward to their meeting.
To close his letter to the school community, Smith said his administration's top priority is ensure the safety of Mt. Bethel Elementary staff and students.
"We will continue to be zealous in our efforts to provide a safe and welcoming environment for all our students," he said.
The Cobb County School District has dealt with antisemitic incidents before, though this is the first instance reported in recent years of an antisemitic drawing found in an elementary school.
In September 2021, swastikas and the words "Hail Hitler" were discovered written in a boys bathroom at Pope High School. Less than a week later, similar graffiti was found in a bathroom at Lassiter High School. A swastika drawn in pencil was also found in a Simpson Middle School bathroom that year.
In February 2022, a student at East Cobb Middle School was photographed performing a Nazi salute while wearing an armband resembling a swastika.
And in July, the district drew criticism for the new logo it proposed for Eastside Elementary School, which many on social media said resembled the emblem of Nazi Germany.