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Chicago rabbi says man who yelled at kids on bus wasn’t anti-Semitic

Wednesday’s incident in which – shouted elementary school students on their school bus near West Rogers Park was not an act of anti-Semitism, the school’s CEO, Rabbi Menachem Levin, said Friday.

Levine, who asked that the school not be named for security reasons, said a social media post and a statement from the Simon Wiesenthal Center were responsible for stories that circulated Thursday that said the men boarded the bus and yelled obscenities and threats at the children. .

Levin said school bus charters have safety records. Levin reviewed the footage and told the Tribune that no one got on the bus. There were also no anti-Semitic chants or “Heil Hitler” salutes, he said.

“This whole story is children and immature adults,” Levin said.

Levin said that the day before the incident, one of the students on the bus was yelling at a group of people on the side of the street. Levin said he thought the student was yelling about the “Mafia.”

On Wednesday, Levin said when the students yelled at the same group of people again, a person in the group signaled for the bus to stop. The bus driver opened the door, “which they shouldn’t have done,” and the first passer-by yelled and “sweared” at the children, he said.

“I ran into real neo-Nazis or Hitler fans, and that had nothing to do with it,” he said.

Levine said one parent said her son thought the men gave a Nazi salute as the bus pulled away.

“Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t,” Levin said. “There is no evidence for that.”

The kids were understandably shocked, Levin said. The statement to the police was filed due to the fact that elementary school students were involved in the incident.

“We’ve been threatened over the years, so we take it seriously,” Levine said. “We’re talking about children here.”

Chicago police said Friday that the investigation into the incident is ongoing.

On Friday, the Simon Wiesenthal Center updated their statement, explaining why they released it. According to the update, the center’s report was verified by two parents and police officers who investigated the students’ allegations.

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“We were told that this was a hate crime,” the center said in a statement. “Later that day, the school released a statement denying what the children reported. Now the school says that it was not an anti-Semitic incident.”

Levine said the school sent out a notification to parents and talked to students about what happened and “how you conduct yourself on the bus.”

The school also issued a statement to parents and staff on Friday, clarifying that the footage showed it was an “unfortunate bus incident” and not one related to hate or threats.

Levin said he is the grandson of four Holocaust survivors and has spoken out about anti-Semitism at town halls and schools. “I would be the first to call out anti-Semitism, it’s a serious matter,” he said. “It was much ado about nothing.”

Levin added that heightened concern over incidents of anti-Semitism across the country also played a factor in Thursday’s spread of “false information.”

“I think people are nervous,” Levin said. “People who make real anti-Semitic attacks, we have to be vigilant in the press and people have to expose it. It happens that this is not the case.”



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