D.C. school librarian fired after making students reenact the Holocaust—including dying in a gas chamber and shooting their classmates—to show how the “Jews ruined Christmas” for Germans

December 20, 2021 • 12:45 pm

For a long time some of my Jewish friends, including observant ones, have told me that there’s a resurgence of anti-Semitism in American, sometimes implying that it would get so bad that they were considering moving to Israel. I’ve always poo-pooed this apocalyptic idea, thinking that Jews are now part of mainstream America and, although a minority (about 1-2%, many of them nonbelievers), we weren’t a denigrated minority.

Well, things have changed since the ultra-progressive Left has taken over, and since there’s been a resurgence of white nationalism on the Right. The Left’s activities are ongoing, as with the “progressive” members of Congress voting for BDS initiatives, issuing anti-Semitic or anti-“Zionist” tweets, and showing increasing valorization of Palestine—an apartheid country if ever there was one. Right-wing anti-Semitism seems to be on the ultra-extreme right, and erupts as sporadic demonstrations, like the one in Charlottesville.

Whoever is responsible for this trend, the result is that we hear more about anti-Semitic incidents all the time. This isn’t just a news bias, since the mainstream media itself, like the NYT, aren’t especially pro-Jewish (they’re pro-Palestine); and the number of Jewish “hate crimes” is increasing. Jews are, in fact, on a per capita basis the religious group most targeted by such crimes:

According to the FBI data, 8,263 hate crimes took place in America in 2020, an increase of nearly 9% compared to the 7,287 reported in 2019. Of all reported hate crimes, 1,174 targeted victims due to their religion and 676 of them—54.9% of all religious bias crimes—targeted Jews. 53% of hate incidents targeting Jews involved the destruction, damage, or vandalism of property; 33% were instances of intimidation; 6% were simple assaults; 4% were aggravated assaults; 1% were instances of burglary or breaking and entering; and 1% were instances of larceny or theft.

This article below from the Washington Post (click on screenshot) might be an isolated incident, as it’s unique to my knowledge, but it might also display how far the rot has spread. (The article is reproduced almost verbatim in the Times of Israel as well.)

I’ll summarize what happened, and will put quotation marks around quotes from the pieces.

At Watkins Elementary school in southeast Washington, D.C. a group of third graders (~9-10 years old) were in the library doing a self-guided project. But the students were coopted by a school librarian who forced the students to reenact scenes from the Holocaust.  Here’s what the students were forced to do:

  • One student, who happened to be Jewish, was told to play Hitler. At the end of the mock Holocaust, the student was told to pretend to commit suicide.
  • Other students were asked to pretend to be on a train to a concentration camp
  • At least one student was told to act as if he were dying in a gas chamber
  • Some students were told to pretend they were digging their classmates’ mass graves, and then had to pretend to shoot their classmates.

This is the most offensive part:

The instructor allegedly made antisemitic comments during the reenactment. The parent said that when the children asked why the Germans did this, the staff member said it was “because the Jews ruined Christmas.”

Can you believe that?

Although the instructor told the students not to say anything about this little exercise, the kids told their parents. The good news is that all hell broke loose, because some of the students were Jewish.  The principal of the school, one M. Scott Berkowitz (probably a Jewish name as well) apologized in an email to the parents without naming the staff member (I now have her name; see below).

“I want to acknowledge the gravity of this poor instructional decision, as students should never be asked to act out or portray any atrocity, especially genocide, war, or murder,” Berkowitz said in the email.

The incident was reported to D.C. Public Schools’ Comprehensive Alternative Resolution and Equity Team. The staff member is now on leave, pending a school investigation.

“This was not an approved lesson plan, and we sincerely apologize to our students and families who were subjected to this incident,” a spokesperson for DCPS said.

The entire class met with the school’s mental health response team after the Friday incident, according to Berkowitz’s email.

The good news is that the school didn’t blow it off. But they shouldn’t have anyway; it’s only “good news” because Americans are becoming increasingly anti-Semitic.

Anti-Semitism is especially distressing when it’s among the black community (Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam are the worst offenders). Historically Jews and blacks have been friends, with Jews forming a large proportion of white civil rights activists in the Sixties.

This article (and several other sources) give the librarian’s name as Kimberlynn Jurkowski, and at first I thought she was of Polish descent. But her LinkedIn page, showing undoubtedly the right person (a “library media specialist” in Washington, D.C.), reveals that she’s black. (How did she get the surname Jurkowski?)

And she’s got a history that could charitably be described as “checkered”:

The librarian — identified as Kimberlynn Jurkowski — was accused in a tutoring scam in New Jersey that defrauded the Atlantic City school district of thousands of dollars and had her teaching licenses suspended for three years by the state Department of Education in 2017.

. . . A former Hamilton, Atlantic County resident, Jurkowski faced charges of theft by deception and fraud for allegedly billing the Hamilton school district for tutoring services for her two children that was never performed, according to the state’s order of suspension.

The Hamilton Township school district paid the cost of the tutoring to Bridges Education and Counseling Services, and its owner, Mildred Spencer — a friend of Jurkowski, according to the ruling.

After the tutoring services had ended, Jurkowski and Spencer allegedly conspired to continue to bill the district for six additional months — from October 2011 through March 2012, officials said.

In December 2013, Jurkowski and Spencer were accepted into a pretrial intervention program for first-time offenders for six months, and Jurkowski was forced to forfeit her employment in the school district, according to the Department of Education ruling.
So how did Jurkowski get hired as a school librarian at Watkins Elementary School? Did they not do a background check? Somebody at Watkins Elementary has some ‘splaining to do!
An addendum about local bigotry, from both papers. First, from the Post:

Other local schools have reported incidents of bigotry in recent months. At Woodrow Wilson High School in Northwest Washington, several swastikas, the n-word and the phrase “white power” were scrawled on the wall of a men’s bathroom early this month, according to reporting by student journalists at the Beacon, the school’s independent newspaper.

And from the Times of Israel:

Last month vandals broke into a fraternity house at George Washington University in Washington, DC, and desecrated a Torah scroll, tearing it apart and covering it with detergent.

I just noticed that the New York Times has a short piece on the incident, and names the perpetrator, as well as mentioning Jurkowski’s LinkedIn page, but doesn’t mention that she’s black. Is race relevant in a case like this? If a white librarian had asked black children to reenact scenes from slavery, wouldn’t the paper mention that the librarian was white? Had the librarian been an anti-Semitic white supremacist, you could have bet that every report would have mentioned that.

My guess is that it was just terribly inconvenient to mention the race of the perpetrator, which goes against The Narrative. The NYT has a history of omitting the race of the people who attacked ultra-Orthodox Jews in New York City over the last several years, though nearly all the attackers were black. When there’s a pattern like this, race does become relevant.

h/t: Malgorzata

84 thoughts on “D.C. school librarian fired after making students reenact the Holocaust—including dying in a gas chamber and shooting their classmates—to show how the “Jews ruined Christmas” for Germans

  1. Also very inconvenient to The Narrative has been the identity of nearly every single random attacker of Asians (many of them female, and many elderly) on the streets and in the subways of NYC, not to mention very similar examples of brutality in LA and SF. Nary a “white supremacist” has turned up in the reports of those arrested in dozens upon dozens of vicious crimes committed against persons of Asian ancestry.

    1. One of the most egregious instances of the double think employed to perpetuate The Narrative is this article on Daily Kos:


      The author, a regular contributor of bien pensant articles on race, gets through a page and a half of writing without mentioning that the “Six Bay-area men” are all from a single ethnic group. Some of the commentators have the chutzpah to point this out.

    2. White males are just 30% of the population but in 2020 they were arrested for:
      – 57% of all violent crimes
      – 70% of Sex offenses
      – 66% of forcible rapes
      – 58% of aggravated assaults
      – 54% of metro murders
      – 91% of Familicides
      – 53% of Serial Killings
      – 62% of Mass Killings

      1. Although I do not doubt your stats, they do give the wrong impression. After all, black males are but 7% of the population, and Hispanics under 8.5%. They both have disproportionate crime rates too.
        I guess what these stats show is that it is males that commit most crimes, particularly and overwhelmingly violent crimes

  2. In my locality (Madison WI) two black female school principals were removed from their positions (and then given new posts in the school district bureaucracy, rather than being fired outright). One faced allegations of embezzlement, the other of incompetence.

    Throughout the public sector, including school districts, too many persons of questionable repute are placed into positions of responsibility, largely on the basis of race, etc. or other artificial qualifications.

  3. The article says she was suspended. I hope that means she has also been fired. She should be banned from all schools in the area and then some. There should be some legal action they can take. If in fact, that is her name I would like to see the parents?

      1. Another question from the stupid section is — what was this person doing? I would not think working in the library also included rounding up kids and giving classes. As I recall, teachers in the library were there to run the library, not round up kids and do classes.

        1. My understanding that a lot of school librarians have an official title like ‘teacher librarian’ where an education degree is much more relevant than a MLS. I know school librarians who occasionally have to teach special lessons (rather than regularly scheduled daily classes). Those special classes are more frequent at the elementary level to encourage students to learn to read and learn to use libraries. However, in my limited and increasingly out-of-date understanding, those special classes are not determined by a traditional government curriculum (they are, of course, still bound by government laws). Because of how much freedom teacher librarians have, it is one of the fields left for passionate but misdirected and unmanageable teachers. That doesn’t describe a majority of librarians, just a few.

        2. From my K-5 observations, librarians (nowadays “media center coordinators”) do a fair amount of presenting to students. Library is a once-a-week or so “special” (like Art, Music, Technology, Spanish).

          1. Way way back in my day, the library was where you went for study hall. Suppose to be a quiet place. No classes, no holocaust.

            1. I observed at a high school 8-10 years that it is no longer a quiet place. Either the social/cultural “norm” has changed or the adults in charge have thrown their hands up, finding it too difficult to get adolescent human primates to rest their voices.

              I wonder if this is also true of university libraries.

    1. She has been fired.

      Anyone want to place a bet on how long it is before she sues the district, with the full backing of the Teacher’s Union?

  4. “I want to acknowledge the gravity of this poor instructional decision…”

    I even calling it an “instructional decision” defends her too much. The school should avow this act as having nothing at all to do with instruction or education – she was clearly acting out on her own bigotries during her job – and (after an investigation etc.) fire her.

    So how did Jurkowski get hired as a school librarian at Watkins Elementary School?

    At the risk of generalizing, SE Washington DC tends to be poorer and have higher crime than the surrounding districts, so I bet they have trouble attracting good job candidates for many of their school jobs. This is not true of the whole district, but it could be a possible explanation for this school.

    In contrast, NW has most of DC’s wealthiest and whitest areas in it. Again, that’s not true of the entire district, but if you told me skinhead type vandalism was found in a public school in DC and asked me to guess the district, NW would be the one I’d guess. (Admittedly it’s not much of a guess – NW also happens to be the largest district…)

  5. Actually, I would not expect there to be any significant skinhead activity in NW DC. That area is simply too wealthy and elitist to attract skinheads or white supremacists!

  6. At Woodrow Wilson High School in Northwest Washington, several swastikas, the n-word and the phrase “white power” were scrawled on the wall of a men’s bathroom …

    Hmmm … 50% probability of a hoax?

    1. Wrt hoax hate crimes, Bari Weiss on her podcast earlier this month has a horrifying & fascinating interview with Wilfred Reilly.

  7. How did she get the name Jurkowski? Perhaps the same way my four black children (I’m white) got my last name.

    1. Or, if not that, marriage? Fewer than 10% of USian women keep their birth surname after marriage. Seemed like a really weird part of this story to get hung up on. As if her deeds are somehow worse because her name dares to pass as white.

      1. Since Black Americans who are descendants of slaves were given slave owner names, we can assume all have names which don’t reflect their African ancestry. Certainly I don’t think many (if any) US slave owners were of Polish decent, so the name is unusual for a black person.

  8. Haven’t kids been suspended/expelled for pointing their finger at a classmate and saying, “pew, pew pew”? This sounds much worse.

  9. Perhaps it is a subtle difference, but I suspect there’s been little change in people’s opinions of others unlike themselves. Instead, they perceive that they don’t have to hide it as much any more. Although Trump is certainly to blame, hate is part of Woke culture too. Calling for someone to be fired and never work again is not a loving attitude.

  10. I think that the race of the educator in question did have a role. I mean, forcing employers to achieve diversity at all costs can easily lead to crappy people being hired and kept employed just because they belong to the “correct” group.

  11. At heart “wokeness”, the religion of progressives, loathes competence and achievement and is a bottomless pit of resentment.

    Intellectual life in the United States especially, would be hugely impaired without Jewish contribution….and extraordinary contribution far outstripping numbers. And adding to that is the fact that Jews are probably the most persecuted group of people in the world.

    In so many ways, then, their existence and achievement dilute and debunk critical notions of the sacrimentalized, central “woke” figure: “the victim”.

    1. Based on the information available, we do not know if this person is “woke” or not. It is incorrect to attribute antisemitism to all woke. There were plenty of antisemites long before the Woke appeared on the scene. But, regardless, this person should be fired beyond doubt.

      1. I’d hazard she’s not an entirely well person because this is just an extremely weird thing to do… which doesn’t preclude any other explanation.

      2. If you’d have visited her facbook page you would know that it appears she is pretty much in the woke cloud. And, less clear, probably in the Islamic one too.

  12. “The good news is that all hell broke loose, because some of the students were Jewish.” I very much hope it was not only Jewish parents who were outraged, but any conscious parent at all. This behavior is outrageous. This along with her history of committing fraud should make her unemployable in any public position.

    1. If the act of forcing children to do something, quite apart from how horrid that thing was, and then telling them to keep it secret, is true, then she surely deserves to end up with a criminal record, that being something she seems to have slithered out of in the earlier incident elsewhere.

      1. My inner alarm goes off whenever I hear of an adult telling children to keep secrets from their parents. Terrible on its own merits, it also tells us she knew her actions were wrong- by what standards, we don’t know.

  13. Unbelievable!

    Quite how “the Jews ruined Christmas” is unclear – especially given the old anti-Semitic trope that the crucifixion was all their fault in the first place. After all, with no dead Jesus there’d be no Christmas…!

    1. “The Jews ruined Christmas” makes me think of the line from Kinky Friedman’s song “They Ain’t Makin’ Jews Like Jesus Anymore”, “Has it occurred to you, you nerd, that that’s not very nice; we Jews believe it was Santa Claus that killed Jesus Christ”!

    2. People can be so stupid. If they want to be pissed at someone for killing their Jesus they should be pissed at his Daddy, shouldn’t they? Oh, of course. I’m the stupid one. Daddy and Jesus were the same tripartite entity, along with that holy ghost thing. I admit, that would confuse anybody. Especially anybody capable of reasonably clear thought.

  14. After all, with no dead Jesus there’d be no Christmas…!

    Christmas is associated with the dear chap’s birth, is it not? In any case, we would not be saved if he hadn’t been nailed to the landscape.

  15. If she’d like to do any Holocaust reenactments in the future, I’d love to volunteer to help make her into soap or perhaps to fashion a paperweight out of her head! lol

  16. Our host writes: “Anti-Semitism is especially distressing when it’s among the black community (Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam are the worst offenders). Historically Jews and blacks have been friends, with Jews forming a large proportion of white civil rights activists in the Sixties.”

    The part beginning with “with . . .” is true. What ever made you think those acts of generosity were reciprocated with any fellow feeling then, or ever would be in the future?
    Try to redress injustices visited on hateful people and you will be hated yourself, simply because they now know who you are.

    No good deed goes unpunished.

    It might not have been obvious to people outside Toronto but the leadership of the Toronto District School Board — their outrageous activities have been highlighted twice in these pages in recent weeks — is Black. Not “African-Canadian”, because they are not descendants of slaves brought to Canada in chains. Black. Their ancestors emigrated here voluntarily from Caribbean countries where they have been enjoying majority independent rule since the 1960s. But they still hate.

    1. That’s what I thought, too — the “friends” part was never true.
      Black racism and antisemitism is among the worst of any group, but is hardly ever acknowledged. A “victim” group can never be racist, as they are just reacting to their oppression, their hate speech doesn’t hurt anyone, all the groups they resent being privileged. It has to be excused (the poor things can’t help themselves and also don’t really mean it, it’s just the way they talk) and it has to be hushed over lest it reinforce negative stereotypes of the victim group.
      Also, if your main reason you oppose racism is that it’s your own group who is at the receiving end, that does not necessarily mean that you have universalized your anti-racism as a general attitude to all cases of racism.

  17. The letter from the principal is very unlike other letters normally written when racial incidents take place, and I can’t help but think this has to do with the two races involved and which side of the problem they were on. It was an “instructional decision”? Not a “racist” or “antisemitic” or “disgustingly craven act of bigotry,” which caused “hurt and trauma throughout our community” or something like that?

    Can you imagine if this incident had been tweaked a bit with regard to the groups involved? I have a feeling it would be all over CNN and MSNBC.

  18. The instructor allegedly made antisemitic comments during the reenactment. The parent said that when the children asked why the Germans did this, the staff member said it was “because the Jews ruined Christmas.”

    Ok, reading this I got a different impression. I’m going to make a guess that the librarian wasn’t trying to use this role-playing exercise to make a point against the Jews, but against brutal fascist regimes in general, and/or the Nazis in particular. The “anti-Semitic” comment here might have been a ham-fisted way of saying the Germans did it “for a stupid reason.” She didn’t think the school was doing a good enough job at depicting the horrors and wanted to test out her better idea by “tutoring” them. For real.

    I’m not saying there’s not been a rise in antisemitism. There obviously has. But this story doesn’t strike me like that. It would have been different if she’d had the “Jews” rounding up the “Palestinians” for the Death Camps, of course.

    (Edited to add: this would explain the principal’s curious lack of outrage in his response. “I wanted them to truly understand how awful it was to be a Jew back then” is different than “I wanted to punish the Jews. Again.”)

      1. I don’t think so. In the scenario she got the children to reenact, the Jews were very clearly portrayed as victims which is not exactly the standard anti-Semitic trope – no ‘blood libels’ or ‘secret world domination’ for example. She is alleged to have made anti-Semitic comments but the only example given* (at least in the account above and the articles cited) is the “Jews ruined Christmas” comment. That is not a direct quote from her but a third hand quote via one of the children, his/her parent and then the press so it is impossible for us to know to what extent tone, context or even exact wording might have been changed along the way and what her intended meaning might have been.

        I don’t know what her motivation was and she for all I know may indeed be an anti-Semite but I think Sastra is correct that it is not exactly an open and shut case as far as that is concerned, at least on the facts we are presented with. What she did was extremely ill-judged, potentially damaging to the children and in itself evidence that she is unsuited to her job, but personally I’d reserve judgement on whether or not it was motivated by antisemitism.

        Reference is made to Jurkowski’s checkered history but this appears to relate to a financial fraud in which she was once involved and, while that is not an indication of good character, neither is it evidence of anti-Semitic tendencies or political extremism.

        *You refer to ‘vile remarks’ in the plural. Have you seen other examples quoted? If so where?

        1. +1

          She might have said “because the Jews ruined Christmas” which is antisemitic, or she might have said “because they [the Nazis] thought the Jews ruined Christmas” which is merely factually incorrect, or she might have gone into a more complex discussion about the reasons for the Holocaust which one of the children has boiled down to “because the Jews ruined Christmas”.

      2. I don’t think so. The scenario she got the children to reenact involved the Jews as victims which is not exactly standard fare for anti-Semites – there was no ‘blood libel’ or ‘secret world domination’ or such like involved. Only a single example of her alleged anti-Semitic remarks is given (at least in the account above and the articles cited) – the “Jews ruined Christmas” comment. That is not exactly a direct quote but has reached us third hand via one of the children, his/her parent and then the media. It is impossible for us to know how the tone or context of the remark may have changed along the way or what Jurkowski’s intentions were when she made it.

        I certainly don’t know if Jurkowski is an anti-Semite and for all I know she may be, but Sastra is right that on the facts were are presented with it is a far from open and shut case. Her action was certainly very ill-judged and potentially damaging to the children involved and, in itself, justification for her being relieved of her duties but I do not think it is twisted and bizarre to suggest that we don’t know that it was motivated by anti-Semitism.

        Mention is made of Jurkowski’s ‘checkered’ history. This appears to relate to a financial fraud she was involved in and while that is not an indication of good character, neither is it evidence of anti-Semitic tendencies.

        1. Apologies – I posted the first remark and it seemed to disappear so I rewrote it, only to discover that the first attempt had been successful after all.

          1. There was nothing about her approval of the Nation of Islam in your original post or in the articles cited. Sastra was accused of being twisted and bizarre for pointing out that the information we were presented with was at least open to an alternative interpretation. I do not think it was at all twisted and bizarre to say that, hence my comment.

            In my post I tried to be clear that I do not know what Jurkowski’s motivation was. I certainly did not assert that she was definitely showing sympathy to the Jews and acknowledged that she might well be an anti-Semite. Additional evidence that has subsequently been brought to light might support the latter view but it was not part of the original account. Neither Sastra’s original comment nor my defence of it suggest that anti-Semitism is not a real and serious problem but simply questioned whether the facts then available on the Jurkowski case automatically led to the conclusion that her action was unequivocally anti-Semitic in intent.

            I believe (and said) that what Jurkowski did was reprehensible irrespective of her motivation. If it was motivated by anti-Semitism it was doubly so.

    1. I had entertained that possibility, especially as we only have the children’s word for the Christmas remark. They may have misunderstood a remark about Christian antisemitism. She may have been more inept than guilty of antisemitism.

    2. What about the statement that the Jews ruined Christmas for the Nazis? How would a young kid process that?

      What about her asking the kids not to tell their parents?

      Also, Andy Ngo (I know, demonized as an alt-righter) reports on a Twitter thread that the librarian frequently wrote in support of BLM–and the anti-Semitic Nation of Islam? I haven’t checked her tweets, but se this thread:


      After that, do you really think her sketch was to show sympathy for the Holocaust?

  19. “Anti-Semitism is especially distressing when it’s among the black community (Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam are the worst offenders).”

    Ms. Jurkowski does seem to have Malcolm X’s eyeglasses.

  20. About a year or 2 ago, I saw a video of Jane Elliott in her classroom back in the 60s making the children go through her “Blue Eyes Brown Eyes” instruction. The children were obviously upset; one of the boys was weeping. I was not familiar with her, and I was aghast that someone was permitted to execute such a painful experiment on children. Evidence points to what should be obvious: having children act out painful bigoted acts towards each other does not teach them to be unprejudiced. I don’t know what was in this librarian’s mind. I know that the activity was cruel, and telling children not to tell their parents was wrong, too. As a professional educator, she would know that 8-10 year olds would not hear the comment abouts Jews and Christmas as irony or satire. I can’t agree with you that this is merely exceptionally crazy poor judgement. She should not be allowed a job around children.

    1. I am afraid in woke classrooms, all kinds of damaging stuff is going on. Children who get sorted by race and have to admit their privilege. This when in many public schools in the cities, the “privileged” (i e white) kids are a minority, and probably not personally privileged at all.
      As regards Jane Elliott, I read about this many years ago (probably as a student) and was quite impressed with her good work. I find myself questioning a lot of what I once believed.

  21. A Mays Landing property owner has been arrested on animal cruelty charges after one of her Rottweiler dogs died in the freezing cold this winter. But activists are criticizing police for not taking action when they had the chance to possibly save the animal.

    Police have charged Kimberlynn Jurkowski, 59, with four counts of animal cruelty and four counts of abandoning a domesticated animal, the department announced Wednesday.


  22. Fascinating, captain, as someone once said.

    Until Coyne’s piece, nowhere did I read about the ethnicity of the staffer alleged to have engaged in anti-Semitic balderdash. Count me shocked (I, too, made assumptions based on the last name).

    I was a daily journalist for three decades and am now a freelancer. In other words, not a reflexive media basher. But the transparent double-standards when it comes to specifying the race or ethnicity of people in news coverage today is deeply concerning.

    Surely the rule should *not* be, “When it makes Group X look good/victimized/valorous/marginalized, we identify by race. When it makes Group X look bad/guilty/bigoted we do not identify by race.”

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