JSU walks out against antisemtism


Photo Courtesy of Jordyn Hoffman

WCHS students gathered outside in the cold weather on January 23, 2023 to listen to executive board members of the WCHS Jewish Student Union, Oriya Appel and Leah Kreisler, speak about the battle against antisemitism.

By Cecilia Bernstein, Photo Manager

As antisemitism and hate crimes continue to spread like wildfire around the country, some WCHS students have made it their goal to fight these actions. The Jewish Student Union (JSU) at WCHS held a walkout on January 22, with the goal of raising awareness for antisemitism.

During 6th period on Monday, WCHS students gathered on the track outside to show their support for the fight against antisemitism. Two student speakers addressed the crowd, sophomore Leah Kreisler and junior Oriya Appel.

“As we stand here on the Churchill track, countless other schools around the country are joining us in a statement against antisemitism,” Appel said during her speech. “If we have any hope in fighting against antisemitism, it is the unity we are showing today.”

JSU is a part of a country-wide Jewish youth group, NCSY, WCHS’s chapter is very active and has many members. They have been outspoken about their support for Jewish people facing antisemitism and how the community needs to act against it. They scheduled the walkout during school so it could make a statement against hate crimes. 

“JSU is an organization that works to foster a Jewish community within schools, but everyone is welcome and encouraged to come,” Kreisler said during her speech. “That is why we decided to speak up against recent antisemitism in Montgomery County.”

Antisemitic incidents continue to rage on in MCPS, creating an evil and fearful environment. In the past few months, the local community has been vandalized with hate speech: “Jews not welcome” was found graffitied on the Walt Whitman sign, swastikas were drawn on three different schools in the county and hate symbols were found on the Bethesda Trolley Trail.

“Antisemitism is not just something we see on the news,” Appel said. “It is all around and we have to fight against it.”

Dozens of WCHS students made their way out of the school and onto the track once the bell to end lunch and start 6th period rang. Even though most teachers marked students’ absences as unexcused, the battle against antisemitism made the brief school absence of students seem unimportant by comparison.

“Each and every one of us has an active role in this battle and simply showing up today is a statement that moves the cause forward,” Appel said.

After the walkout, WCHS administrators made an announcement to the whole school over the loudspeaker, highlighting the effort that the JSU has made to fight antisemitism. The announcement condemned antisemitism and other hateful acts at WCHS and praised the members for educating their fellow students.

“[Antisemitism] can manifest in so many different ways, from speech to a simple gesture, and it can sometimes be hard to recognize,” Kreisler said. “But when you do, it is essential that you act against it.”

The JSU deemed the walkout a success since it educated WCHS students on what antisemitism is, how to identify it, and how to fight against it. The battle against antisemitism has now rallied a whole new group of students, united in their common cause.

“Remember, advocacy against any discrimination is advocacy against all discrimination,” Kreisler said.