Conn. official criticized for 'shekels' comment

AP News
Posted: Mar 24, 2011 10:18 AM
Conn. official criticized for 'shekels' comment

A Connecticut city's school board chairman is being criticized for using the word "shekels," a comment that some teachers called a jab at the district's sizeable Jewish population.

The Hour newspaper reports some Norwalk employees and its teachers' union want apologies from Jack Chiaramonte (Cheer-ah-MON'-tee).

Chiaramonte was quoted in the newspaper criticizing teachers for refusing to consider wage freezes. He accused the union of caring more "about a few extra shekels" than for students.

Chiaramonte says he used it as slang, but that he is not anti-Semitic and apologizes if some people interpreted it that way.

Some Norwalk Jewish leaders say the context invoked disparaging historical imagery in which Jews were accused of caring more about money than their communities.

Others are defending Chiaramonte, saying "shekels" is just innocuous slang.