Ramapo School Board Candidate Criticizes Frum Members With References to Nazis


ramapo-school-board[Video below.] An edited video branding portions of an East Ramapo school board candidate’s speech at a recent board meeting as anti-Semitic has sparked anger in a community already¬†divided by religious and ethnic tension. Antonio Luciano’s reference to Pontius Pilate and war criminals in criticizing the board’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish majority for its budget cuts led to a responding video interspersing those words with images of J- being crucified and the Nazi Holocaust.

Luciano made his comments while criticizing the Board of Education’s policies as hurting public school students during an April 14 board meeting.

The district has in recent years been divided between public school parents and their supporters and supporters of the school board majority who largely send their children to private schools. Both factions have been videotaping board meetings and posting the videos on the Internet.

“While I have sat here, watching board members during the budget crisis, I have heard a recurring theme: It’s all about the kids, and we do not want to hurt the kids,” Luciano said during his nearly two-minute speech, “but to try to absolve yourself from blame is like Pontius Pilate washing his hands, or the soldier who has committed war crimes who claims he was only following orders.”

A video using about 30 seconds of Luciano’s speech was then created focusing on his reference to the man who ordered Jesus’ crucifixion and the war crimes comment. One defense given by the Nazis during the Nuremberg trials for murdering Jews and other innocent people was they just followed orders.

With Luciano’s words repeated several times, the video offered images of a bloody and beaten J- carrying his cross and Adolph Hitler giving a Nazi salute. Images of the Holocaust were shown following Luciano’s words.

The video has since been removed. A user named “Reasonforeastramapo” had posted the video, shot using a camera owned by school board Vice President Aron Wieder. Wieder said he had nothing to do with the video.

Luciano’s own video of him delivering his remarks before the Board of Education, however, remains on the Internet.

Luciano said he didn’t mean to offend anyone but chose the most extreme examples to illustrate his point that the board members can’t avoid taking responsibility for their decisions that hurt the district’s children.

“To try to link me with Adolf Hitler or having anything to do with persecution of Jews or the Holocaust is outrageous,” Luciano said. “I was just trying to get people to take responsibility for their actions. That was it.”

Luciano’s words received a sharp rebuke.

Ramapo Rabbi Justin Schwartz, a community activist in Ramapo and Spring Valley Fire Department chaplain, said that Luciano crossed the line to make his point about the board’s policies and that his rhetoric just further inflamed the contentious relationship between select board members and one faction of the school district community.

Schwartz said Luciano could have just as easily told the board members that he was running because they were responsible for hurting the education of the students.

“The rhetoric that we’re war criminals and we’re J- killers touches on the worst images, and this type of language is only inflaming the situation,” Schwartz said. “My fear is this is going to lead to violence and people getting hurt.”

Schwartz said both sides in the debate must take responsibility for the harsh language at board meetings. He said the video using Luciano’s words didn’t open up the dialogue or bring people together.

“The video wasn’t helpful in response to Luciano,” he said. “The harsh language has to stop, and both sides must take responsibility. We also have to understand that people who pay school taxes, whether they send their children to public or private schools, have a right to vote and be elected to the school board.”

Steve White, an education activist in East Ramapo who supports Luciano’s candidacy, said that he did not believe people who view Luciano’s entire speech have any reason to be offended.

“Mr. Luciano has spoken at length at multiple board meetings, and he came to this meeting and he spoke strongly and chose strong words. … If you look at it carefully, you can see that he wasn’t comparing the actions of the school board to war criminals,” White said.

White called those who take offense to the video “disingenuous,” before adding that taking offense seemed a convenient stand for those who disagree with Luciano’s criticism of the board.

“He was using the most well-known examples of people trying to get out of something they did … by making excuses and saying it wasn’t their fault,” White said.

Read more at The Journal News.

Watch the video below:

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{The Journal News/Noam Amdurski-Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. chillel Hashem??? stick to Chicago politics. Here in Ramapo, where I live, it is a disgrace what we ALL pay in school taxes, and in addition have to pay tuition. The School district does with us whatever they feel like with no regards to the economic situation. In a time where every government agency has cut spending the school boards have the chutzpa to INCREASE spending RAISING the taxes – literally evicting us from our homes.

  2. #1 – What Chillul Hashem was caused by the frum school board members??
    That they tried to lower taxes?
    Cut excess?
    Think before you write.

  3. Shame on you #1! How dare anyone compare us hardworking homeowners who struggle to pay the outrages school taxes, one of the highest in the nation for these ungrateful public school kids , their parents and those who seek to promote their agenda through bigotry and hatred.
    How do you not understand that we are being compared to murderers and Nazis? Is your understanding less than elementary?

    Anyway, with Hashem’s help, Luciano has no chance of winning. We non-public school parents are the majority in Ramapo.

  4. Hopefully Aron Wieder has improved in the manner in which he communicates during board meetings. Rabbi Ronnie Greenwald lectured him after his poor start on the board, about how to come across better.

  5. Perhaps his comments were antisemitic but the frum board members must ask themselves:How of much of this antisemitism did our actions cause?Based on what I read the answer would be-way too much.Having frum people close down a school or cuts services from one is big time Misgarah B’Umos.To hear people talk about adding services for Mosdos but ‘doing whatever it takes to lower the budget’ is scary when we consider what the backlash could end up being.R’L.I hate paying taxes also, but would prefer monetary tax to the tax of having non jews resent us and point to our actions as proof of what Yidden are like. As I’ve heard non jews do.(VD”L)

  6. Shame, shame and shame again for the frum Jews who has no compunction and would rather see Jews having to have their homes forclosed, not because of their mortgage but because of the rising taxes. Have you no heart to your own Jewish brothers and sisters, hardworking individuals who barely have enough money to pay for basic necesities and all because the public school parents are against giving up some school programs which have nothing to do with education. What part of extracurriclar don’t you understand?

    For all of you who are worried about chillul Hashem I can assure you that the haters hate us because we are frum, period. And if you don’t know what chillul Hashem means then let me tell you. Chillul Hashem means running to the town, being a musar that someone opened a yeshiva, chillul Hashem means feeling bad for all these “poor” public school students who are literally putting us out of our homes, (when the majority of these students are children of parents who are here illegaly and don’t pay taxes)and posting your thoughts on LoHud.com.

    How dare anyone blame the school board members for cutting programs, for sitting through the screaming, the name calling, the bashing, all to save us frum homeowners who are paying school taxes in addition to schar limud?

    I have a feeling that those who are sticking up for the idea of neverending tax hikes are those
    1. whose children are grown, they do not have to pay schar limud
    2. Are not paying schar limud as they should be
    3.have no more than 2-3 kids
    4. have bought their homes thirty years ago and they have not been reasesed

    Kudos to the school board members who are doing the best they can under the circumstances. We need to show more of our public support so that they will not be scared to make more cuts.

    Don’t forget to vote “NO” on the upcoming school budget.

  7. I live in Monsey and the entire school budget is a rip off of the legitimate tax payers most of whom are Orthodox. Taxation without representation is tyranny.

    We are constantly being forced to pay more and more for an ever declining public school base without even getting to vote on it. The is real oppression. We only vote on a small portion and that is overturned in board meetings where the vast majority of attendees are the school teachers and others who feed at the trough of funds squeezed from the public for no good reason.

    It makes no sense that the funds used for each public school student exceed the tuition for the most elite private schools. This is the real travesty and misuse of the budget.