(JTA) – An ex-teacher at a Jewish school in Russia on trial for inciting racial hatred told his students to “kill the Germans,” one of his former 12-year-old students testified.
The student testifying in the trial of Semen Tykman, who taught at the Or Avner Jewish school in Yekaterinburg, also said the teacher told the class he spits in the direction of every Russian Orthodox Church he passes, the news website Uralpolit.ru reported. The same witness said Tykman described in detail how to drink vodka with honey on Shabbat, according to the report.
Tykman, 57, has pleaded not guilty to the charges of “inciting hatred or hostility, and humiliation of human dignity.” His trial began last month and its first witness hearing took place on Sept. 17 at the Kirovsky District Court in the city, which is located near the Europe-Asia border.
Prosecutors indicted Tykman last month based on complaints by several parents. Asked for a comment on the charges against him, Tykman told the site he would speak only after a verdict is delivered.
On the first day of the hearing, Tykman was interviewed by a court-appointed psychologist, Elena Nikitina, who also interviewed some of the 12-year-olds whom Tykman taught at the school, which is affiliated with the Chabad movement.
The prosecution has four witnesses against Tykman, a Jewish engineer, including the student. On cross examination, Tykman’s lawyer argued that the teacher’s words on the Germans referenced Nazis during the Holocaust and not Germans today.
In June, prosecutors raided the school and confiscated some textbooks.
Boruch Gorin, a Chabad rabbi and editor-in-chief of the Moscow-based L’chaim Jewish monthly, said Russian authorities are treating Tykman’s case “as they would any other case involving allegations of extremism.” Gorin added that the school had tried to “cover up the problems instead of dealing with them.”
The allegations, he added, “are not unlike those brought against other, non-Jewish defendants.”