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Madison Jewish community responds to controversial Baraboo photo

MADISON (WKOW) — Rabbi Jonathan Biatch of Temple Beth El in Madison expressed his surprise Monday after seeing the photo that appears to show Baraboo High School students making a Nazi salute.

The viral photo shows the students dressed in suits, many with their right arm extended upward while posed on the steps of the Sauk County Courthouse. The photo was taken last spring, but spread quickly on Twitter Sunday night and Monday morning with #barabooproud.

Biatch is dismayed by the notion that in this day and age, the students may not understand the meaning behind their action and how it can affect others.

After the shooting last month at a Pittsburgh synagogue, he says seeing something like this deepens the wound. He says we must dedicate ourselves to teach about prejudice and the dangers of bigotry.

“We should be able to move past this. Now that photograph again is six months old. So it’s not necessarily tied into Pittsburgh. But it think it’s tied into a larger, cultural atmosphere, climate that we’ve created in this country, of people who are siloed, who are nationalistic, who are in their tribal groups,” Biatch said.

Biatch says he presumes most of the students were not being intentionally malicious. He say he can’t believe the students would be proud of conjuring up a symbol that our country fought a war to try to destroy.

There is a growing sense of nationalism in the country, according to Biatch. He says when people draw together, they draw walls around themselves and shut out the possibility of any diversity in our culture.

A group of clergy of different faiths from around the state and Chicago issued a statement condemning the photo:

David Johnson

Reporter, WKOW

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