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Jewish Community in Uproar Over Nazi Resemblance in Cobb County School Logo

Members of the Jewish community say the new logo for Marietta's East Side Elementary School is too close to Nazi imagery for comfort.
Members of the Jewish community say the new logo for Marietta's East Side Elementary School is too close to Nazi imagery for comfort.

With a right-facing eagle looming over angular lettering, Marietta’s East Side Elementary School’s new logo has sparked outrage among many, who are comparing the stylized raptor to Nazi symbology.

Worse, say some, the school sits across the street from Congregation Etz Chaim, a synagogue home to many East Side students and their families.

Marty Gilbert, Executive Director of Congregation Etz Chaim reached out to school officials, hoping to educate them about what he and others have characterized as the logo’s disturbing similarity to Nazi symbolism.

"I just wanted to make [the school] aware the similarity was upsetting and I sent the e-mail off in the late in the afternoon," Gilbert said. "And I received a call this morning from the principal. She did say that they use a war eagle that has been used by the US military as a guide for the logo, but obviously there's a similarity to the Nazi insignia and she did not see it until I sent them juxtaposed to each other and she saw it and she said that she was aware of the problem. She apologized and they are going to change the logo."

While district and school officials temporarily halted the logo’s rollout after public outcry, the design raises the specter of students wearing on school uniforms an emblem that for some echoes that of a movement that sought to challenge their existence.

School officials did not seem to notice the logo’s similarities to Nazi imagery before announcing in an email to parents that the logo “represent[ed] the Eagle soaring into excellence.”

In an emailed statement, a Cobb County School District spokesperson said that the district plans to halt the logo’s rollout to make changes.

“We understand and strongly agree that similarities to Nazi symbolism are unacceptable. Although this design was based on the U.S. Army colonel’s eagle wings, stakeholder input has been and continues to be important to our schools,” the spokesperson said.

While troubled by the logo, Marty Gilbert also sees the issue as a potentially teachable moment for school and district officials. He says it underscores the need to continue to readdress anti-Semitism for the future of the Jewish people.

"It's something that we have to remember as we move further away from the Holocaust, and there are less survivors," Gilbert said. "It falls out of consciousness and I think we just have to remind people that this is a sensitive issue about hate. It's something that has to be addressed."

For many in the Jewish community, the agitation over the elementary school’s logo is just the latest in a series of incidents that they say have anti-Semitic undertones.

In September 2021, a boys bathroom at Pope High School in Cobb County was vandalized by swastikas and the phrase “Hail [sic] Hitler.” Pope’s letter to students, which failed to acknowledge the incident as anti-Semitic, received backlash from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) who asked Cobb County School officials and Pope High School to further investigate the incident to prevent future incidents. CCSD and Pope officials did not respond to ADL’s letter.

Their unresponsiveness, the ADL asserts, may have to do with the district formally banning the teaching of critical race theory and dropping the ADL’s No Place for Hate initiative from their schools, initiatives that provide students and teachers with institutional support for reporting bias-motivated incidents.