The Lovett School has expelled one senior and suspended five others in connection with a version of beer pong called Jews vs. Nazis that was played at a party before the school year.
A photo from the party Aug. 7 — five days before neo-Nazis grabbed national headlines through the deadly violence and demonstrations in Charlottesville, Va. — made the rounds on social media and by email, and several people forwarded the image to Rabbi Peter Berg of The Temple, who contacted Lovett Headmaster Billy Peebles on Aug. 9.
Peebles and other school leaders responded with a quick but thorough investigation.
The incident is the latest example of increasingly common anti-Jewish actions or harassment connected to public and non-Jewish private schools in the Atlanta area, part of a national and regional trend cited this spring by the Anti-Defamation League.
“Two weeks ago, The Lovett School was made aware that several students, and students from other schools, were involved this summer in an off-campus incident with anti-Semitic overtones and other violations of Lovett’s character pledge and student handbook,” Peebles said in a statement issued to the media Aug. 23. “The school pursued an immediate investigation, and significant responses — including disciplinary action and counseling — have been undertaken. Character education is at the heart of all we do at Lovett, and we deeply appreciate the individuals and organizations across our community who are helping us to continue to learn and grow from this very troubling incident.”
Jews vs. Nazis involves plastic cups filled with beer that are set up on opposite sides of a ping-pong table. On one side, the cups are arranged as a Star of David; on the other, they are set up as a Nazi swastika.
The game, also is known as Alcoholocaust, goes beyond insensitive names and cup formations. After an incident in Princeton, N.J., in April 2016, NJ.com reported that the rules allow the “Jews” to “Anne Frank,” or hide, a cup, while the “Nazis” may “Auschwitz,” or force to sit out for one round, an opponent.
“The fact that someone could even conceive of such a game and then play it and think it’s funny is beyond words,” Rabbi Berg told WSB-TV (Channel 2). Rabbi Berg said he was pleased with Lovett’s response.
Peebles, who is retiring at the end of this school year, spoke about the incident at Lovett’s senior supper Aug. 13, then included those remarks in a letter to Lovett families.
Lovett’s investigation into the party and the game led to the conclusion that 19 current students were at the party, along with several alumni and as many as 10 students and graduates from other high schools, but no parents were there.
The Lovett senior who hosted the party and four seniors who played Jews vs. Nazis were suspended, and two other seniors who were photographed watching the game lost the privilege of participating in certain school activities for two weeks.
The senior who was expelled is the one who took the photo and is believed to have helped set up and played the game. He was found to have misled administrators about what happened and his role.