Mayor Mullen supports Pelham’s Jewish community unsettled by swastikas; ‘hatred was never defeated’

Editor’s note: this statement was provided by Mayor Chance Mullen

Dear neighbors,

I’m writing to express my support for Pelham’s Jewish community, many of whom are feeling unsettled, unsafe and unwelcome in their own Village, as a result of the recent news that three swastikas were found in the Pelham Middle School. I am grateful that the leadership in our schools has reacted so swiftly to both investigate the incident and to leverage this situation as an opportunity for our children to learn. In the Jewish faith, these ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur—the day of atonement and holiest day of the year—are a period of introspection. In that spirit, I hope that we can all learn and reflect on the path that brought us here.

It can be easy to view an incident like this as a solitary bad act and little more than a harsh reminder of past atrocities, long since defeated. But if we’re being honest with ourselves—and what better time could there be for honesty—we must admit: this hatred was never defeated. From the start of humankind, bigotry in all its various forms has been etched into nearly everything we know: our laws, our economy, our housing policy, our criminal justice system. It’s in our DNA. It flows freely on social media and daily on the news. It shows up in many forms: a rebellious act by one of our children, in our toxic political discourse, in a side comment said by a friend or neighbor.

Instead of simply waiting for this particular child to receive their discipline from the school district, I hope we can each take some responsibility for changing the conditions that create incidents like these. This responsibility should fall especially on those of us, like myself, who do not identify as part of the Jewish community. It’s important to remember that this is not just the product of someone else’s parenting. It’s frightening to admit, but the truth is, my son will not be influenced solely by the things I teach him. He will be influenced by the things we all teach him. The same is true for your children. I hope we can commit to showing them what kindness, justice and inclusion actually look like in real life.

To my Jewish friends: please know that you are not just “welcome” in Pelham. You are Pelham. This Village is as much yours as it is mine—as it is anyone’s. I am sorry that you have been reminded once again that this battle is far from over. I hope you take some comfort in knowing that you are not alone in this moment. I am glad we are neighbors.

L’Shana Tova…