MCJEA commemorates Holocaust Rememberance Day


Photo by Melissa Redlich

The Walt Whitman High School Chamber Choir directed by Michelle Kim performs “The One Who Makes Peace” song at the Montgomery County Jewish Educators Alliance (MCJEA) Holocaust Remembrance event.

By Melissa Redlich, Features Editor

In 1940, Flora Singer’s life changed forever. She was uprooted from her Belgian Jewish home and taken to the Auschwitz internment camp in Poland. From there, she was battered and bruised, but she survived. More than 80 years later, members of the local community gathered together at Flora Singer Elementary School in Silver Spring to commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day and honor this brave and resilient young woman.

On April 17, Holocaust Remembrance Day or Yom Hashoah in Hebrew, the newly formed Montgomery County Jewish Educators Alliance (MCJEA) held an event for members of the Montgomery County community. This event, led by MCJEA founder Andrew J. Winter featured many speakers discussing the intersectionality of the Holocaust and the present day.

“If we held a minute of silence for each of the Jews who died in the Holocaust, we would be sitting here for 11 and a half years,” Montgomery County Council Vice President Andrew Friedson started off the night by saying.

Speaker Rabbi Adam J. Raskin from Congregation Har Shalom led a discussion about the rise in religious and racial injustice, informing the community that there has been a 261 percent spike in acts of antisemitism in Montgomery County this year.

“I was very moved by the Holocaust event today. Hearing the daughter of a Holocaust survivor tell her innocent mother’s story truly deepened my knowledge about what it meant to be a Jew in the 1940s,” WCHS senior Noa Assouline said. “Not only was this event an experience to learn about rising antisemitism in the world but also a way for the Jewish community to gather together on one of the most important days in Jewish history, Yom Hashoah.”

MCJEA was created in January as a result of the spike in antisemitic activities in MCPS. Since then, the organization has hosted discussions and community gatherings, met with MCPS leadership and continues to serve as a resource for MCPS students and staff.

“Events like these are so important because they allow for our Jewish community to gather together and educate ourselves on Jewish history,” Assouline said. “At this event, I felt proud to be Jewish and engage in such a meaningful community gathering. Events like these help the Jewish community grow closer together.”

Together with others in MCPS, MCJEA hopes to create positive change not only to combat antisemitism in MCPS but also to make sure members of the Jewish faith have the support they need. In addition, MCJEA wishes to protect everyone in MCPS, ensuring all minorities have the support they deserve.

“It’s a shame we are here, but the fact that these conversations are taking place in the county shows that we are not going to be silent,” Council President Evan Glass said.