Dear Friends,
I am appalled and saddened by the crude anti-Semitic incident which occurred on Saturday evening, where local students performed a Nazi salute around a swastika formed with red plastic cups during an off-site drinking game. 


I am grateful to the Newport Mesa School District, the administration of Newport Harbor High School, and to the Newport Beach Police for all their efforts to swiftly address this incident with deep concern, sensitivity and professionalism.



And I am heartened by the communal response I have observed. We have seen sweeping, grass-roots support and unified efforts from all across our blessed community and beyond. We have witnessed the real Newport Beach emerge and speak with one united voice and moral clarity.



My goal and hope is to seize this dark moment and use it as opportunity to illuminate Newport Beach as a whole; but specifically, to positively transform the lives of the erring students. We are working closely with the leadership at Newport Harbor High School to facilitate greater awareness, Holocaust education, and encounters with survivors to engage with students on an ongoing basis. Just this Monday evening, I addressed an overflowing audience of students, parents and community members, and I will be addressing the entire student body at a rally tomorrow.



Along with the staff of the Chabad Center for Jewish Life, we have been working diligently to arrange for Anne Frank’s stepsister Eva Schloss, an Auschwitz survivor, to meet with the group of students behind the ‘Nazi Salutes and Swastika’. The proposed meeting is scheduled for this Thursday at the Newport Harbor High School. Eva, 89, is a peace activist, international speaker, teacher and a humanitarian. Eva has an incredible story of survival, grit, loss and ultimate triumph of the human spirit against all odds. I am hopeful that despite their actions, these young individuals, with promising futures, have the potential to become advocates of tolerance, understanding and coexistence in the school, in our community and beyond. 



Our sages taught that evil can be redeemed and transformed into good. After a negative experience, we are best positioned to grow and increase in goodness, tolerance and understanding. Every step back can—and must—become the impetus for a giant leap forward.



I am available to meet and offer support during this time for any member of our community, young and old alike. Much work remains, and we will continue our efforts until Newport Beach is filled with light, love, tolerance, and friendship to all.


With peace and blessings,

Rabbi Reuven Mintz