World Rreport

Czech government to set ruleson teaching religion in schools

PRAGUE (JTA) — In the wake of a teacher's anti-Semitic lecture, Czech state schools will be receiving new guidelines on teaching religion.

Earlier this month, 25 seniors at Prague's Na Prazacce High School sent a letter to Czech Chief Rabbi Karol Sidon asserting that their teacher, Vera Vesecka, said Jewish suffering, including the Holocaust, was a "just result of the role Jews played in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ."

The students charged that Vesecka, 70, who was lecturing on Christian ethics, said the only way Jews can have a "fully meaningful existence" is to convert to Christianity.

Vesecka, a Seventh-day Adventist who has been giving lectures in Prague schools on religion since 1990, called the students' letter "a lie."

"I love Jews," she said. "I do not want to harm anyone."

She said that in her 45-minute lecture she named Jesus as the only example of a perfect person and read a description of Jesus' trial to the class.

She was quoted in a Czech newspaper, however, as saying that "if Jews want to be saved, they must accept that [Jesus] is the messiah."

After a Nov. 13 meeting between Sidon and Education Minister Jiri Grusa, the ministry announced that it would develop a "decree redefining conditions of religious lessons at state schools."