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A teachable moment

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This event should also be a "teachable moment" not only for those involved but for all of us...

The administration at Catholic Memorial is to be commended for their quick action after 50 to 60 of their students chanted an anti-Semitic taunt during a March 11 basketball game with Newton North High School, which has a large Jewish population.

Catholic Memorial administrators took immediate action to halt the chant, fans apologized to the opposing team coach at the end of the game and students were barred from attending the next game at TD Garden the following Monday. Catholic Memorial administrators have further reassured the public that they will effect changes in their curriculum on the subject of intolerance and bigotry, to avoid similar incidents in the future.

Some may be tempted to excuse the inexcusable by citing the fact that the Newton North fans had made their own demeaning chants. However, as Catholics, we know we are accountable for our own actions, irrespective of the actions of others.

New England Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League Robert O. Trestan said he hopes that this will be a "teachable moment for all of those involved," and he is right.

In a broader way, this event should also be a "teachable moment" not only for those involved but for all of us, as it clearly shows that, despite all the efforts to recognize the failures of the past and move together in a new friendship, more needs to be done at the grassroots level.

Catholic-Jewish relations have greatly improved since the Second Vatican Council's Nostra Aetate was issued. Since then, Pope St. John Paul II has called the Jewish people our "elder brothers and sisters," Pope Benedict called them "fathers in the faith," and Pope Francis, during his recent visit to the Rome Synagogue, stressed the "irrevocability" of God's covenant with the Jewish people. Locally, just the evening before the Catholic Memorial-Newton North game, Cardinal O'Malley praised the progress in Catholic-Jewish relations at an event held to mark the anniversary of Nostra Aetate at Temple Emanuel in Newton.

The tremendous progress realized in the past 50 years needs to trickle down from the leadership to the rank and file in our churches and synagogues. Only in that way will events like this truly become a thing of the past.

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