Rise in antisemitic incidents in Montgomery concerns officials

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Jose Traum will speak Thursday at Tilden Middle School as Montgomery County schools grapple with an increase in antisemitic hate incidents.

ROCKVILLE, Md. — Another antisemitic hate incident has struck a Montgomery County middle school, according to the principal who reported the situation to parents on Monday. 

School authorities recently discovered swastikas scrawled onto desks at Tilden Middle School, according to school authorities. It’s the second such incident at Tilden since April 2022. 

Tilden is one of three schools in Montgomery County that reported antisemitic graffiti or vandalism in a single week, according to a school system spokesperson. Wooton High School and Silver Creek Middle School also reported incidents. 

In a letter to the school community, Tilden Principal Sapna Hopkins announced that police were contacted and promised disciplinary action if the vandals are identified. The principal also announced that Holocaust survivor Josie Traum, who was a child in Belgium during World War II, will be speaking at an assembly Thursday to try and educate students about the danger of hate speech.

On Monday, some Whitman High School staged a walkout to express their outrage over the rise in antisemitism on and off school grounds. Antisemitic flyers have also been turning up on lawns in some county communities, including Kensington.

Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Monifa McKnight denounced the incidents, calling them a “frustrating situation.” 

“We’ve got to continue to ask the question, ‘why is it happening?” McKnight said. “We do all that we can, and will continue, to build community within those schools. But the students are not in those schools 24 hours a day. There are conversations that have to happen at home and in other places that speak to the respect of difference and the acceptance of difference.”

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Rise in antisemitic incidents in Montgomery concerns officials

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