Countywide anti-Semitic incidents spark solidarity
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There have been multiple anti-Semitic incidents throughout the county in the past month, including a bomb threat called into Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville Feb. 27 and a hate crime March 2 at Winston Churchill High School.
A Jewish sophomore at Churchill received an anti-Semitic message via an anonymous text during a class discussion of the Holocaust, Montgomery County police spokesman officer Rick Goodale stated in a police report.
Following the incident, Churchill principal Joan Benz sent a letter to teachers, parents and students stating that hurtful comments regarding religion, race, gender, gender identity or ethnicity would not be tolerated at the school.
The school resource officer is investigating the incident and trying to identify who originally sent the message, Goodale said.
Jewish students at Whitman said they think these incidents unfairly target Jewish communities but are likely empty threats.
“I highly doubt people will actually act on the bomb threats,” junior Dana Gurland said. “They’re just an attempt to scare people, but they aren’t actually going to achieve anything.”
Since the start of 2017, Jewish communities in the United States and Canada have received 122 threats, said Ron Halber, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington.
Police are currently investigating whether the bomb threat to Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School was sent by the suspect connected to many national threats, a 19-year-old Jewish resident with both American and Israeli citizenship.
Political leaders and the MCPS Board of Education condemned the bomb threat and hate crimes. Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett requested that the County Council set aside $225,000 to help the Jewish community increase security in county facilities. The council has scheduled an April 4 public hearing to discuss the request.
Many members of Maryland’s congressional delegation also expressed support for the Jewish community, including Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Representatives John Delaney, Jamie Raskin and John Sarbanes.
These congressmen attended a recent demonstration of solidarity at the Bender Jewish Community Center in Rockville, which was recently targeted with bomb threats.
“We won’t tolerate this behavior; we’re going to find the people who’ve done it, and they’re going to be held accountable,” Cardin said in his speech at the gathering.