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Jewish family flees U.S. town after persecution over Christmas play

After kids' bullying, adults' harassment, family flees, Lancaster Online reports

Centerville Elementary School is at the center of a controversy over a Christmas play. HEMPFIELD SCHOOL DISTRICT PHOTO
Centerville Elementary School is at the center of a controversy over a Christmas play. HEMPFIELD SCHOOL DISTRICT PHOTO

MIAMI – A Jewish family felt threatened enough to move out of a town in Pennsylvania after a controversy related to a children's Christmas play made it to Fox News, according to the Lancaster Online.  

The family told the Lancaster Online that it all started with their request to exempt a child from the play at Centerville Elementary School. The school granted the parent's request that a fifth-grade student not be assigned to work in the school's production of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol

School principal Tom Kramer said the request prompted a conversation at the school and he decided to cancel the play. Kramer said the 15 to 20 hours that it would take to produce and perform the play are not part of the written Hempfield School District curriculum.  

"Our decision is rooted in the desire to be respectful of the many cultural and religious backgrounds represented by the students," Kramer said in a Dec. 15 statement. 

Despite Kramer's explanation, students allegedly bullied the Jewish child after the Nov. 11 announcement. Parents shared their version of events with local and national news organizations -- including the Breitbart News Network.

Jane Burkhart told the local ABC News affiliate and later Fox News' Todd Starnes that the Jewish parents were offended with "God bless us, everyone," a line in the play. 

"One little line shouldn't ruin it for every kid," Burkhart said during the interviews. "Charles Dickens is a class author, not a religious author."

Starnes wrote that the problem was that "in order to be tolerant and diverse, public schools have to eradicate any mention of God ... Heaven forbid the teachers try to introduce the children to the world of the performing arts." 

Lancaster Online reported the harassment that followed the media coverage prompted the family to move. 


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