Students condemn antisemitism, share personal experiences during first period walkout


Charlotte Horn

Temple Sinai Rabbi Noah Diamondstein speaks to students at the Dec. 22 walkout.

By Ines Foscarini

More than 300 Whitman students walked out of first period yesterday and gathered in the Commons to support the school’s Jewish community and demand action against antisemitism.

Jews4Change founder Rachel Barold, a freshman, and other members of the group organized the event in response to the antisemitic graffiti found at Whitman on Saturday, which marked the fourth instance of antisemitic vandalism in Bethesda since August. Administrators excused all students from first period to attend the walkout, which hosted guest speakers from Temple Sinai, Congregation Har Shalom and the Maryland House of Delegates.

Members of the girls’ basketball team found the spray-painted words “Jews Not Welcome” on Whitman’s Whittier Boulevard sign on Saturday. Yesterday morning, a large crowd of students and staff listened as Jewish students shared personal experiences and the stories of their families during the Holocaust, while allies voiced their support for the Jewish community. Barold began the event by sharing her personal experience with antisemitic jokes at Whitman and called on MCPS to integrate Holocaust education into the curriculum in schools.

“We want to feel like we are respected just the same as our peers in this school and in this county,” Barold said at the event. “If we don’t remember history, it will repeat itself.” 

In a speech to students, Rabbi ND from D.C.’s Temple Sinai cited a passage from the book of Psalms to inspire the community to stand up against hate. He explained that while antisemitism has been around for over 2,000 years, students must continue fighting for the change they want to see. 

“No amount of hatred, fear or lies can stop us from fully living out our values, our traditions and the things that make us who we are,” Diamondstein said. 

Rabbi Adam Raskin of congregation Har Shalom in Potomac also shared his frustrations about the recent antisemitic incidents. He was surprised that one of the top high schools in Maryland had experienced such intolerance, he said. 

“I was horrified that Whitman was the most recent target in a growing epidemic of antisemitism in this community,” Raskin said. “If you consider yourself educated, progressive, ethical, kind or even the least bit intelligent, you should not tolerate this.” 

State delegate Mark Korman, who represents Maryland’s legislative district 16, told attendees that the state and national governments stand with the Jewish community against hate. He emphasized the importance of standing up for others when a student makes insensitive jokes or comments.

Jewish Student Union president Eliana Joftus and vice president Macie Slater also shared personal stories about their relatives who were alive during the Holocaust. Barold then opened the floor to students to share their opinions and family histories. 

After Jewish students and allies spoke to attendees, Rabbi Rachel Simmons closed the event by asking students to repeat phrases that they could use when confronting or witnessing antisemitism at school. Members of Jews4Change also handed out cookies and cupcakes to walkout participants. 

For junior Rachel Crowdy-Volkens, the walk-out was an important step towards spreading awareness about antisemitism at Whitman. It effectively encouraged Jewish students and allies to work together to combat hate, she said. 

“We, as a community, aren’t afraid and we will stand up and fight,” Crowdy-Volkens said. “Seeing all the allies and members of the Jewish community really emphasized that point and I’m really happy to see so many who support us.”


Jewish Student Union President Eliana Joftus a Black & White Opinion Editor.

Jewish Student Union Vice President Macie Slater is a Black & White Opinion Writer.