Catholic Memorial Bans Students from Attending Playoff Game after Anti-Semitic Chants

Students chanted "You killed Jesus!" at Newton North's fan section Friday night.

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When the Catholic Memorial varsity basketball team takes the court Monday night for a semifinal game against Cambridge, their classmates won’t be in the audience.

The Herald‘s Danny Ventura reports Catholic Memorial administrators have banned all students from attending the contest after fans directed anti-Semitic chants towards Newton North during a game Friday night. Newton North students crudely jeered, “Sausage fest!” at the all-boys Catholic prep school’s fan section, which prompted roughly 50-75 of them to shout back, “You killed Jesus!” Newton North’s student body is heavily Jewish.

Catholic Memorial’s president Peter F. Folan issued a statement Saturday condemning the chant.

“Catholic Memorial School is deeply disturbed by the behavior of a group of student spectators who made an unacceptable chant Friday night while playing Newton North High School,” Folan said. “Catholic Memorial School believes deeply that intolerance, of any kind, is unacceptable. We apologize for the actions of our students and we will continue to strenuously address this issue within our community.”

The students’ actions are in direct contrast to the recent words of Cardinal Sean O’Malley, who said last Thursday at a Jewish synagogue in Newton he urges all Catholics to “have a deeper awareness of the Jewish roots of our Catholic faith.” Catholic Memorial administrators have also announced the school will hold several assemblies Monday and make changes to their curriculum. In addition, members of the school’s staff reached out to New England’s Anti-Defamation League in the aftermath of the incident.

Newton North superintendent David A. Fleishman said his high school will hold an assembly of its own to address the perceived homophobic chants its students levied at Catholic Memorial.

The incident involving Newton North and Catholic Memorial is the second recent controversial episode that has occurred between rival fan bases in Massachusetts high school athletics. On March 4, Mansfield High School students were criticized for chanting “USA!” during a basketball game against Brockton High, whose varsity team is primarily comprised of immigrants. Mansfield Superintendent Zeffro Gianetti said the chant was a part of a pre-planned patriotic theme night and was not supposed to be offensive. Brockton superintendent Kathleen Smith said the affair was a misunderstanding as well.

In November, some Framingham high school football players reportedly chanted anti-Semitic slurs in the team locker room prior to their annual Thanksgiving Day game against Natick. There have also been three additional anti-Semitic incidents in Newton North over the last several months, including an episode earlier this month in which “Burn the Jews” was scribbled on the wall outside of a boys’ bathroom at the F.A. Day Middle School.