Shortly after school dismissal on Tuesday, Northwood High School staff discovered an antisemitic flyer posted outside near the athletic field—the second found on the Silver Spring campus in February, according to county police.
While similar flyers have been showing up on porches across the East Coast, an Anti-Defamation League spokesperson said this is the first time flyers have been reported on a school campus in the Mid-Atlantic region.
“Usually the flyering we see tends to occur in residents’ driveways and on porches,” regional ADL director Meredith Weisel told MoCo360 on Thursday. “It’s like they’re trying to reach a new demographic of people by going after high school students now.”
The flyer found Tuesday and one that posted in the same area Feb. 2 contained “hate speech and antisemitic comments,” Principal Jonathan Garrick wrote in an email to the Northwood community. Montgomery County police are investigating both incidents, spokesperson Lauren Ivey confirmed to MoCo360 on Thursday. The ADL is conducting its own investigation in tandem with police, Weisel said.
Eli Schreiber, a senior at Northwood and member of the school’s Jewish Culture Club, told MoCo360 he was disappointed to learn of the flyers, and that other students responded with bewilderment to the email announcement sent by the principal on Wednesday.
“More than anything, people were a little weirded out,” he said. “Like, this just didn’t seem normal, and it felt very out of place.”
He added that the Northwood community has “really come together” to make sure Jewish students feel safe and supported in the wake of these incidents, and that he feels “very safe” under the care of the school security team.
Fellow Northwood senior Avi Berzofsky had a different reaction to the flyers.
“From the student body, I didn’t see much of a reaction from other students who weren’t Jewish,” he said. “It was a little surprising.”
Concerned by what he perceived to be silence in the face of hateful rhetoric, Berzofsky said he reached out to the president of the Jewish Culture Club, who helped him publish an Instagram story on the group’s account reiterating that “hate is not okay in schools.” He said between 80 and 90 of the school’s 1,784 students viewed the story.
Both flyers were found on a ramp leading to the athletic track, according to Garrick. Berzofsky said the entire sports field is fenced in, meaning “someone either had access to school grounds, or they jumped the fence.”
Berzofsky said he’s both surprised and not surprised by the incidents.
“Antisemitism has always been a thing, and it’s never going to go away. But someone thought it would be a good idea to bring this into school, and that’s what concerns me most,” he said.
Garrick wrote the flyers appeared to be “connected with a documented outside hate group.” School administration and security are working with local police to identify the parties responsible for their distribution, he said.
MoCo360 obtained photographs of both flyers from students. They contain language referring to the Goyim Defense League, a documented antisemitic group. Weisel told MoCo360 that the ADL believes the GDL is responsible for both flyers and that the ADL is conducting its own investigation.
“Both flyers point to the GDL based on what we know about their imagery—plus they both have the GDL’s logo and information on them,” she said.
She described the GDL as a loose network of antisemites and white supremacists spread across the country who are known for coordinating propaganda campaigns that target the Jewish community. More information about the GDL can be found on the ADL’s website.
In late January, similar flyers believed to be from the GDL were deposited on the porches of over a dozen Kensington residents, Weisel said—prompting another ADL investigation. That investigation is continuing, she said.
The ADL is continuing to have conversations with Montgomery County Public School administrators and principals, Weisel said. The organization will be conducting a series of trainings with MCPS staff over the coming months to help them converse with students about the ways in which antisemitism is currently manifesting in local communities.
The Northwood flyers are only the latest in a recent spike of antisemitic acts across the county.
Last month, MCPS saw four instances of antisemitic graffiti found in schools—at Col. Zadok Magruder and Thomas S. Wootton High Schools and at Tilden and Silver Creek Middle Schools—prompting statements from county officials and community groups in support of the Jewish community.
In December, Walt Whitman High School’s entrance sign was defaced with antisemitic graffiti reading “Jews not welcome here,” and several staff members reported receiving anonymous antisemitic emails the following day. In response, Whitman students organized a school-wide walkout.
Schreiber said when he saw photos of the flyers posted at Northwood, he noticed some of the language they used implied a denial of Holocaust-related history. He said adding more to the district’s school curriculum to teach about the effects of the Holocaust and its modern-day repercussions would benefit students.
“I understand that the Holocaust is a very touchy or uncomfortable subject for a lot of people, but learning about the after-effects—like the rejection of Jews that still happens today—might help prevent this kind of thing moving forward,” he said.