Montgomery Co. comes together for first night of Hanukkah, lighting the way forward

Amid a disturbing wave of antisemitic hate, people in Montgomery County, Maryland, rallied around the Jewish community on the start of Hanukkah Sunday night.

The Glen Echo Fire Department organized a firetruck parade, lighting menorahs along its route. WTOP’s news partner NBC Washington reported that the parade made it a priority to stop and light menorahs at two sites where vandals had left antisemitic graffiti.

The firetruck parade and crowd lit a menorah at the Bethesda Trolley Trail, where officials found spray-painted swastikas and white power symbols in August.

The parade also stopped at Walt Whitman High School, where officials reported an antisemitic message on the high school’s sign this past weekend.

People at Walt Whitman High School lighting a menorah on Dec. 18, 2022, where antisemitic graffiti was found the day before. (Courtesy Glen Echo Fire Department)

The high school’s newspaper, The Black & White, said in a tweet that school Principal Robert Dodd alerted staff to an antisemitic email sent to multiple staff members from someone outside of the public school system.

The school system has not released a statement concerning the antisemitic emails at the time of this report.

Following the hateful message spray painted on the high school’s sign, Jewish students at Walt Whitman formed a group called Jews4Chang and are planning a classroom walkout, The Washington Post reported.

At one of the lightings, according to a social media post from the fire department, a man standing before a menorah said, “But were going to light it [the menorah] a little bit different this year because we are at Glen Echo Fire Department,” the man said. “And everything that Glen Echo Fire Department does, they like to do with some flair,” before a firefighter lit the menorah with a flare.

Even though it was a cold Sunday night, elected officials such as County Executive Marc Elrich showed their support for the Jewish community during the menorah lighting ceremony. In a Facebook post, Glen Echo Fire Department thanked Maryland Delegate Marc Korman, as well as county council members Andrew M. Friedson, Laurie-Anne Sayles, Kate Stewart and Evan Glass, for their support

Councilmember Will Jawando also took to social media to post about the celebration.

“The community came out tonight at Walt Whitman High School to stand up to hate and shine light & love on the first night of Hanukkah,” Jawando said on Facebook. “We must come together to stand side by side to say hate has no place in Montgomery County.”

Hugh Garbrick

Hugh graduated from the University of Maryland’s journalism college in 2020. While studying, he interned at the Queen Anne & Magnolia News, a local paper in Seattle, and reported for the school’s Capital News Service. Hugh is a lifelong MoCo resident, and has listened to the local radio quite a bit.

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