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Press ReleaseMiscellaneous
Nickelodeon Assures ADL it Will Never Run Character or Specific Comic Strip Offensive to Jews Again

New York, NY, October 20, 1998…Nickelodeon, the children’s television network, has assured the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) that it will never again use a specific character illustration or run a particular edition of a comic strip that was offensive to Jews. The strip, which ran the week of Rosh Hashanah - the Jewish New Year - and is part of the Rugrats syndicated comic strip series, portrayed the character "Granpa Boris" in a synagogue reciting the Mourner’s Kaddish. The League called the caricature of Granpa Boris reminiscent of Nazi-era depictions of Jews and said the use of the Mourner’s Kaddish demeans the prayer’s solemnity.

Nickelodeon agreed with ADL about the inappropriateness of the strip, apologized, and assured the League that it would never run the character or the specific strip again.

Herb Scannel, President of Nickelodeon, told ADL that "… to your point that the television character of Granpa Boris may not translate well into a comic strip, we agree. In order to prevent any potential misinterpretation, the Granpa Boris illustration will no longer be used in the comic strip series." He continued by saying that, "this particular comic strip will not be repeated in any form, and we will not make any further use of religious or sacred prayers in the comic strip.

"Unfortunately, the creators of the strip made an error in judgment by referencing the Kaddish. I agree with you that, however well-meaning, the use of the Kaddish in the comic strip was inappropriate," said Mr. Scannel.

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, said, "We are pleased by the speedy response from Nickelodeon regarding our concerns about the particular Rugrats comic strip. We commend them for understanding and we are satisfied by their promise to be more sensitive to these matters in the future and to not run the Granpa Boris illustration or this particular strip again.

"The caricature of Granpa Boris is reminiscent of stereotypical Nazi-era depictions of Jews and the use of the Mourner’s Kaddish in a jocular fashion demeans the solemnity of the prayer," said Mr. Foxman. "We appreciate Nickelodeon’s long record of creative and quality programming and understand that it was not their intention to offend."

The Rugrats comic strip is a spin-off from the Rugrats cartoon television show on Nickelodeon, the Viacom International Inc. owned station.

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

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1998 Anti-Defamation League