A religious costumed celebration has sparked a lesson on racism.

The Lakewood school district will implement an education program after photos surfaced of children wearing blackface and Black Lives Matter. The sighting coincided with recent celebrations of the Jewish holiday of Purim.

Ocean County NAACP President Frank Rich told the Asbury Park Press that he saw the children on Ponderosa Drive and Pine Street. School district attorney and spokesman On Monday, Michael Inzelbuch during a Zoom news conference about the controversy said he received pictures of the children "from within the Lakewood community."

One of the photos shows two children under the age of 10 wearing colorful garb and hats and blackface. A second photo shows children with Afro wigs and sweatshirts that say "Black Lives Matter."

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Inzelbuch said there is "no excuse" for anyone to dress in such a way during Purim but added that he was not sure if the children were from Lakewood schools or attending a Purim celebration. Nevertheless, he said the district would use this as a learning opportunity.

"We're not just going to say 'it's a shame.' We will have educational programming in place by the end of the week," Inzulbuch said.

"While the First Amendment allows for such distasteful expressions of insensitivity, it is abhorrent to the overwhelming majority of Lakewood residents and most insensitive during our current experience in America where such unnecessary division exists," he added.

Lakewood's rabbi leadership group, The Vaad, said in a statement to The Lakewood Scoop that dressing as a member of another culture was once a part of Purim, although understanding on that has evolved.

“Today this is seen as offensive and we are sensitive to the feelings of other groups. Dressing in blackface is particularly inappropriate and offensive and should never be done. We have respect for the feelings of others and do not appropriate their slogans and such should not be done on Purim," the locally influential group said.

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