Report of Jewish family fleeing Lancaster County over school play called ‘untrue’

LANDISVILLE, Pa. (WHTM) – The Anti-Defamation League says reports that a Jewish family fled Lancaster County after they were wrongfully blamed for the cancellation of an elementary school play are “untrue and damaging.”

In a statement on its website, ADL said it investigated and found the family left on vacation for winter break.

“We spoke with the family, who explained that they went on a previously planned vacation for the holidays,” ADL regional director Nancy Baron-Baer said in the statement. “Stories like this can sow fear in the Jewish community and beyond, and it is important to stop the spread of misinformation.”

The Hempfield School District has said the Centerville Elementary School production of the Charles Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol” was canceled because rehearsals took 20 hours of classroom education away from the fifth-grade class.

In a FAQ posted on the school website, the district also states “there was no complaint” about the play, and it was “absolutely not” a complaint about the line “God bless us, every one!” that prompted a reassessment.

In an interview last week with ABC27’s Christina Butler, however, district communications manager Shannon Zimmerman said a complaint did initially lead to an examination of the play.

“So in other words, did a parent complaining about the “God bless us, every one!” line, did that have anything to do with the decision?” Butler asked.

“We heard from parents initially and that was what caused us to look at the scenario of what was happening with the play,” Zimmerman replied.

In the FAQ, the district says since the story was publicized nationally, administrators have received at least 200 or so emails and phone calls either supporting the decision, asking questions to gather additional information, or objecting to the decision.

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