JCRC and ADL DC Demand More from All Local School Districts

JCRC Statement

The JCRC of Greater Washington and ADL DC released the following statement today:

"Over the last 72 hours, JCRC and ADL DC staff have worked tirelessly to communicate to local school systems the importance of acknowledging the horrific attack on Israel by Hamas terrorists and the profound trauma being experienced by Jewish students, parents, and employees. We thank the several school districts that have released some public statement. We wish to especially recognize Dr. Michelle Reid, Superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools, the largest school system in our region, for speaking with JCRC staff several times and for responding personally to parents as she can.

"We must nevertheless share our disappointment and hurt that many other statements have failed to acknowledge the devastating impact of the heinous terrorist attack by Hamas targeting Israeli civilians.   The words that President Biden used yesterday - Jews, Israel, terrorists, massacre - seem to be off-limits for our school districts.  Instead, we received weak, carefully- worded statements that prioritized a perceived need for even-handedness over truth, authenticity, and compassion. Make no mistake, there are not two sides to this tragedy - there is no way to justify Hamas’ war crimes and unconscionable atrocities.

"We reserve our greatest anger and disappointment for Montgomery County Public Schools.  MCPS’ senior management has consistently ignored our agencies’ urgent appeals over the last three days to respond appropriately and sensitively to the large Jewish community in the district, insisting instead that principals alone shoulder the burden of a public response. Meanwhile, Superintendent Dr. Monifa McKnight remained silent until the release of an inadequate statement last night.

"Our school systems’ refusal to honestly name the largest slaughter of Jews since the Holocaust is infuriating and disheartening to our entire community.  A large number of local Jews have deep personal connections to Israel: they have loved ones who were murdered or are missing, they have children serving in the Israel Defense Forces who have been deployed, and they are seeing harrowing images of more than one thousand innocent civilians murdered simply because they were Jewish. Our offices have been flooded with hundreds of complaints and pleas for Jewish students, parents and educators to be seen and heard in their time of immense pain.

"We demand more from Dr. McKnight and MCPS.  And we urge all local school districts to do a better job of listening to and understanding what their Jewish communities need right now.  The coming days will likely only prove more painful, and we grieve for the loss of all innocent life, regardless of religion or national identity.  But if our schools can’t call out the brutal murder of Jews right before our eyes, of what use is the Holocaust education and cultural competency that we have worked together to advance?  You must do more. You must do it now. "