Some Jewish leaders in Sacramento say they don't want Channel 3 reporter Adrienne Bankert fired in the wake of disparaging comments that she made about Jews in a recent talk to students at Sacramento State.
But they do want to meet with Bankert to try to educate the reporter, who told a Sac State Christian organization that she has "never met a poor Jewish person ever in my life" and opined about how Jews founded Hollywood and were prominent in banking.
Bankert later issued a statement, saying in part, "I apologize if anyone was offended by remarks."
Michal Kohane (pictured), executive director of the Jewish Federation of the Sacramento Region, says her organization considered issuing a press release denouncing Bankert and asking for sanctions.
"But the feeling was, it was a little disproportionate to what happened," Kohane says. "What we’re going to try to do is have a personal meeting."
Kohane says she has contacted the station, but has yet to hear back.
"Her commentary teaches more on the commentator than the issue," Kohane says. "(Bankert) demonstrated her lack of knowledge. I don’t feel she said something personally against me where I have to go and prove my bank account over it or bring every Jewish person in town to judge her."
However, at least one Sacramento-area rabbi, David Wechsler-Azen at Beth Shalom, says he was personally offended.
"As somebody who has been a poor Jew, as someone regularly approached by poor Jews for help, it’s just so factually inaccurate," Wechsler says. "It’s just really offensive for someone to portray Jews that way.
"She really needs to be made aware of all the Jewish philanthropies that make sure everyone’s taken care of. That’s the underlying Jewish premise: reach out your hand to the needy."
Rabbi Sheryl Nosan-Blank at Temple Or Rishon, in an e-mail, called Bankert's comments "shocking." Nosan-Blank was not aware of Bankert's comments until told of them by a reporter because she's been visiting relatives in Los Angeles. However, after reading Bankert's statement, she questioned the sincerity of the written apology.
"It is most unfortunate that Bankert's follow-up statement neither corrects her mistaken remarks nor directly apologizes to the Jewish Community," Nosan-Blank writes.
"Hopefully, this season of light will be one which helps all of us become more enlightened, building on our commonalities as people of good faith rather than building walls of hurtful bias and harmful stereotype."