A few days ago I wrote about Kimberlynn Jurkowsky, a librarian in a Washington, D.C. elementary school who was fired for making third-graders re-enact the Holocaust in the school library. These performances included one Jewish kid ordered to play Hitler and then pretend to shoot himself, children pretending to ride trains to the concentration camps, children pretending to dig graves for other children and then pretend to shoot them, and children pretending to be gassed. The children reported to parents that Jurkowsky, an African-American women, made anti-Semitic remarks during the grotesque theater, told one child that the Nazis killed the Jews because “the Jews ruined Christmas,” and then told the children not to tell anyone what happened.
To me the most likely explanation for this is anti-Semitism. Why else would Jurkowsky tell the children to keep their mouths shut, and make that remark about the “Jews ruining Christmas”? Could it be that I grossly misinterpreted her gesture, and she really was trying to evoke sympathy for the Jews through this charade? I doubt it, yet some readers thought that. Here’s part of one comment from a regular reader:
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.
Of course I had to examine my conclusions, especially because I know some of these commenters as thoughtful people who shouldn’t be dismissed. But upon re-examination, and some new information, I stand by my first conclusion: Jurkowski was an unstable woman trying to traumatize children and denigrate Jews out of anti-Semitism.
Some of the reasons are given above, but some readers said the children might have misreported the anti-Semitic comments, or the statement about Jews and Christmas might be misinterpreted. I think the most probable hypothesis is that the children reported correctly. I have no idea about how a statement that “the Jews ruined Christmas” as the librarian’s explanation of why the Nazis killed Jews cannot be plausibly interpreted in any way as sympathetic to Jews.
The woman also has a record for fraud, and was fired from her previous job:
OUTRAGEOUS – Kimberlynn Jurkowski, the 3rd grade library aid that forced 3rd graders to act out a Holocaust scene at Watkins Elementary School in DC is a FELON!
She had her license suspended & was convicted in 2013 of defrauding the Hamilton Township school district of $24,000. pic.twitter.com/x39NVGXuNb
— StopAntisemitism.org (@StopAntisemites) December 21, 2021
Apparently Jurkowski was suspended from teaching in New Jersey after she was convicted of theft and falsifying documents in a tutoring scam. She also lost her teaching license for three years; and there’s one report that she faced a cruelty to animals charge in 2009. How she managed to get the job in Washington with a record like that baffles me.
Remarkably, her Twitter feed is still up, but appears to have been cleansed of her own tweets and contains mostly retweets. But the only retweets about Palestine and Israel she made that I could find were these. They surely don’t bolster the idea that Ms. Jurkowski is sympathetic to Jews or Israel:
— . (@__Farilicious__) June 13, 2020
There are, as Angy Ngo says below, pro-Antifa tweets, and Ngo finds pro-BLM tweets, and pro-Nation of Islam tweets. The Nation of Islam is explicitly anti-Semitic, while BLM is pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel.
Now I know all the criticisms that have been leveled at Ngo for not being an objective reporter and for being anti-Antifa. But I don’t think he’d forge tweets.
Kimberlynn Jurkowski posted frequently in support of #BlackLivesMatter, critical race theory & leftist causes. She's now being investigated for having young school children re-enact out scenes from the Holocaust, including digging mass graves & being gassed to death. pic.twitter.com/wYtqz6MrOO
— Andy Ngô 🏳️🌈 (@MrAndyNgo) December 21, 2021
Kimberlynn Jurkowski shared a video promoting the anarchist communist union, International Workers of the World, along with posts in support of black nationalist group, Nation of Islam. pic.twitter.com/QQEaFB8aVe
— Andy Ngô 🏳️🌈 (@MrAndyNgo) December 21, 2021
I’m just wondering whether, in light of this, and in the complete absence of evidence that Jurkowski had any sympathy for Jews (indeed, she evinces the opposite), people still maintain that her actions were sympathetic to Jews, and that the bizarre Holocaust Exercise she promulgated was designed to make her students (probably mostly black, since she teaches in SW Washington, D.C) more fully feel the horrors of the Holocaust. To maintain that “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.” seems to me a misguided attempt to gild Jurkowski’s acts in the face of all the evidence.
Given all of the above, I’d say that the priors make the best Bayesian inference one of anti-Semitism on Jurkowski’s part. If you have other evidence that she is sympathetic to Jews and wanted to impress on all her students the horrors of the Holocaust, by all means tell me.