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This post was updated Thursday at 5:45 p.m. and on Friday at 1:25 p.m. to include statements from the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington and the Jewish Rockville Outreach Center.

A 17-year-old is accused of making multiple harassing, antisemitic phone calls to a staff member at a Jewish center, Montgomery County Police said Thursday. It is among a number of antisemitic incidents in the county in recent months.

According to a news release, police responded Dec. 21 to the Jewish Rockville Outreach Center on Old Georgetown Road in Rockville. They met with a staff member who had received multiple calls from a caller using antisemitic language.

Through their investigation, police detectives from the 2nd District Investigations Unit were able to identify the caller, police stated, a juvenile who lived in Derwood.

Police forwarded the case to the Department of Juvenile Services for consideration of the charges. The juvenile faces a recommended charge of telephone misuse.

In an email statement to Bethesda Beat, Dawn Hardgrave, the employee of the Jewish Rockville Outreach Center who received the calls, wrote, “The caller was a 17 year old teen. Given his age, if I could play a role in the outcome of his charge, I would hope to see a restorative justice model using education, exposure and communication in the decision of his judgement. It’s easy to be xenophobic and prejudiced to someone or some group you’ve never met, and it’s even easier to do it anonymously.”


Hardgrave stated that there might be an opportunity to halt the growth of antisemitism in a person the perpetrator’s age, who is more likely to be speaking from ignorance than hatred, and to address the unattended ignorance before it turned into the entrenched hatred and antisemitism of an adult. 

Hardgrave also commended the efforts of the police officers and the detectives who helped with the followthrough of the case.

In a statement to Bethesda Beat, Gil Preuss, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, said the Federation appreciated the Montgomery County Police Department’s “thorough work to identify the person responsible for making troubling antisemitic calls to the Jewish Rockville Outreach Center.”


“The caller’s young age underscores how critical it is to educate our children about the dangers and consequences of antisemitism and all forms of hatred from an early age,” Preuss stated.

The antisemitic calls are among a recent spate of rising antisemitic incidents in the county including graffiti drawn at public schools and along the Bethesda Trolley Trail, antisemitic flyers deposited on synagogue members’ porches in Kensington, harassing emails sent to staff at Walt Whitman High School and the hurling of antisemitic comments during an attack on a Jewish man last week at a Gaithersburg Giant.

A $5,000 reward was offered by the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington and the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Greater Washington for information leading to the arrest and indictment of the individuals responsible for antisemitic graffiti found at Walt Whitman High School and the graffiti found earlier last year, along the Bethesda Trolley Trail.


On Monday, county officials promoted $800,000 in grants to prevent the recurrence of hate-based incidents in the county. The grant money was awarded to 91 facilities—either religious institutions or community nonprofits for security programming.

County Councilmember Evan Glass stated on Monday that he and other officials were looking into establishing an anti-hate task force, consisting of elected officials and other community partners to combat hate in the county, with more information on the task force to be announced in coming weeks.

In November, the County Council unanimously approved the passing of a resolution to condemn and combat antisemitism, which has faced backlash due to its inclusion of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism.