update deskAntisemitism

New Haven reviews anti-Israel city staffer who protested at rabbi’s home

Thabisa Rich, who works in the Connecticut city’s cultural department, yelled offensive remarks via a megaphone, prompted by a “Stand with Israel” sign.

City Hall and the Connecticut Financial Center, in downtown New Haven, Conn. Credit: Jon Bilous/Shutterstock.
City Hall and the Connecticut Financial Center, in downtown New Haven, Conn. Credit: Jon Bilous/Shutterstock.

The nation’s third-oldest independent school, which traces its history to 1660, suspended a member of its advancement team, as the city—home to Yale University—investigates his wife for yelling anti-Israel chants through a bullhorn outside a local rabbi’s home.

Hopkins School, a private middle- and high school in New Haven, Conn., with some $225 million in net assets and an annual tuition north of $47,000, suspended Charles Rich, its associate director of annual and reunion giving, on Feb. 17, the New Haven Independent reported.

Rich’s wife, Thabisa Rich, community outreach coordinator in the city of New Haven’s Department of Arts, Culture and Tourism, is under investigation by the city, a spokesperson for New Haven mayor Justin Elicker told The Daily Wire.

Rich “chanted ethnic-cleansing slogans with a megaphone outside a Jewish family’s home and encouraged others to return with her,” according to the Daily Wire. She did so after spotting a “Stand with Israel” yard sign at the home of Rabbi Elchanan Poupko and his family in a residential neighborhood, the publication reported.

Poupko told the Daily Wire that on Feb. 11, his wife told him “that someone was outside our house with a megaphone screaming pro-Palestinian chants.” He went outside “and confronted her for protesting outside a private Jewish house when a car stopped and a masked man joined her,” Poupko added.

The city is “actively collecting information and reviewing the matter,” the spokesperson told the Daily Wire.

“While people have very different and strongly held views on the war between Israel and Hamas, the mayor believes there is an appropriate time, place and manner in which to express them,” the spokesperson said. “Mayor Elicker believes Ms. Rich exercised very poor judgment in this regard and finds several of her personal social media posts to be concerning and offensive.”

The publication published a video recorded by the rabbi in which a man with a mask, whom the Daily Wire identifies as the city employee’s husband, tells him that the protest isn’t targeting his home.

The rabbi pointed out that Rich stood in front of his house yelling on a megaphone. Rich’s husband replied that he had a sign supporting Israel and pressed him on whether he “supported everything they’re doing in Palestine.”

“From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” Rich yelled in the bullhorn. “I live in this neighborhood. I am not lost. I am not lost in this neighborhood.”

‘I am sick of these Jew-focused ads’

“We were very shaken,” Poupko told the Daily Wire. “It turns out they are both very prominent members of the community who came to harass us because of our ‘Stand with Israel sign.’”

The publication noted Rich’s frequent antisemitic posts (since deleted) on her social media handles, including stating that she does not denounce Hamas, referring to people’s “pockets lined with bosses who are Jewish.” She also mentioned advertisements that appeared during the Super Bowl, saying, “I am sick of these Jew-focused ads. What a show of power. Muslims are getting the hate. Stop Muslim hate. Stop Palestinian hate.”

Matt Glendinning, head of school at Hopkins, wrote to the school community about the incident in a letter on Feb. 17.

“Earlier this week, we learned of a video circulating online showing a verbal altercation between a Hopkins employee, the employee’s spouse—who are both Hopkins parents—and a neighbor regarding the war between Israel and Hamas,” per the letter, which the Independent quoted.

“The spouse has stated she was engaged in a march to advocate for a ceasefire. In the video and in social media posts, the spouse used antisemitic language that is deeply concerning,” Glendinning wrote. “Pending further review, the Hopkins employee has been placed on administrative leave, and both the employee and the spouse are precluded from being on campus.”

“As a community of learning, civility and respect, Hopkins vehemently condemns speech that is hateful, harassing and intimidating, including antisemitic speech,” the letter added. “Antisemitism in all its forms has no place in the Hopkins community or in our larger communities. While this incident did not involve the school or its students, we understand that issues as this can be and have been very upsetting and unsettling.”

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