A parent recording what he thought would be a nice memory of his son competing at a robotics competition ended up capturing one of the judges making an anti-Semitic comment — right in front of a group of students.
The judge, possibly a teacher, was volunteering at the competition at Mineola High School where students from all over Long Island came to compete. On the video recorded on a smartphone camera, two judges are listening to a student speak.
"God d--- Jews," one the judges can be heard saying quietly and under her breath to the other. The fellow judge next to her seems to nod along. The comment was made after a student mentioned a building owned by the Hebrew Community of New York.
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Yan Vilensky was recording the event his son was competing in, a qualifying tournament for the FIRST Lego League.
"It’s disgusting what was said, I did not say anything in the room because the kids were competing in the room, and I didn’t want to affect outcome of competition," Vilensky told NBC New York.
The video is now sparking outrage, and former assemblyman Dov Hikind said he'd "like to know where there hate is coming from, I'd like to know why they engaged in vile hate in front of young people."
The superintendent of Mineola schools said in a statement that the district "vehemently denounces the comments made during the event. FIRST Lego League is an Island-wide volunteer organization that organizes robotics tournaments ... It is a shame that the hateful comments of one person will taint this very worthwhile and critical organization.”
The Mineola superintendent said the judges may or may not be teachers somewhere in tri-state area.
Hikind and others are demanding that if the volunteer judge is indeed a teacher, they need to be removed from the classroom. Vilensky called it "appalling" that someone who is a teacher would say something like that, and is now trying to turn the vile language into a learning lesson."
"You try to make sure kids understand that we are society of many different races, multicultural, multi religious society. And inclusivity is a very important thing," Vilensky said.
The organizer of the event did not respond to a request for comment.