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Hate speech reported at First Lego competition in Mineola

Contest judge drops anti-Semitic phrase as Woodmere Middle School students presented


Updated Feb. 14 at 9:55 a.m.

The Hewlett-Woodmere School District has investigated an anti-Semitic incident that occurred at an event involving the Woodmere Middle School robotics team. 

The remark was said at the First Lego League Competition at Mineola High School on Feb. 9, while the middle school robotics team was making a presentation. A video taken by a parent shows a female WMS student discussing the former location of the Woodmere-Lawrence Methodist Church at 1023 Broadway in Woodmere being purchased by the United Hebrew Community of New York in 2012. A female judge is heard saying “Goddamned Jews” off-camera to a fellow judge during the presentation. The United Hebrew Community bills itself as the "leading Jewish burial society in New York."

The school district released a letter to the community on Feb. 13  discussing the incident.  "During the competition, a judge was heard making an anti-Semitic comment while the Woodmere Middle School Students were presenting," the letter said. "It is extremely unfortunate that our students, who worked so hard to prepare, were interrupted by such a reprehensible message of hate." 

The letter emphasized that the judge who made the remark is not an employee of the school district and will be banned from participating in future First Lego events.  "The individual has taken responsibility for her actions and plans to apologize to the students and parents involved," it said. "We have also been informed that the other adult in the video was shocked by the statement and is receiving counseling by the organization on how to respond to statements of hate in the future."

Rabbi Claudio Kupchik, the leader of Temple Beth El in Cedarhurst, whose son was part of the Woodmere team said: “I know the incident is still being investigated," he said. "But regardless of the context of the comments, it’s  inappropriate to say something like that.”

The three listed partners for Long Island from the First Lego League did not respond to a comment by press time.