Speakers included family members of the hostages; Israeli President Isaac Herzog; Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.); House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-L.A.); Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, U.S. Special Envoy to Combat Antisemitism; and Christian and Muslim leaders.
Although they did not speak, I stood in the area near dozens of members of Congress from both parties who attended the rally to show their support for Israel.
The State Department’s antisemitism envoy, Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, told the crowd that the Biden administration “stands shoulder to shoulder against Jew-hatred,” saying that “today in America we give antisemitism no sanction, no foothold, no tolerance, not on campus, not in our schools, not in our neighborhoods, not in our streets or the streets of our cities. Not in our government. Nowhere. Not now, not ever.”
Both Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Herzog and Israeli President Isaac Herzog — the latter of whom spoke via livestream from the Western Wall in Jerusalem — addressed the crowd. In his speech, President Herzog praised “The moral clarity and bold actions of our American allies demonstrate the depths of the U.S.-Israel alliance, which is stronger than ever before.”
Rachel Goldberg, whose son, Hersh Goldberg-Polin, was kidnapped, condemned the silence over the hostage crisis. “Why is the world accepting that 240 human beings from almost 30 countries have been stolen and buried alive?” she asked.
Three things stood out:
- This was an American rally in support of Israel. There were both American and Israeli flags everywhere. That is not something you see at rallies against Israel.
- It gave me such pride and hope for our Jewish future to see thousands of Jewish youth in attendance from Jewish communities, day schools, youth groups, summer camps, and Hillels.
- I will never forget the experience of singing HaTikvah, Israel's national anthem, with 290,000 people. It gave me chills.
When I flew home late Tuesday night following the rally, I could not stop thinking how proud I was to be there with people from across this country standing in solidarity with Israel.
Last night, the Jewish Federation's Women's Philanthropy held its IMPACT event with over 250 women. Despite world events, you could see the joy on everyone's faces being together in community. Juju Chang, an ABC Newscaster, was our featured speaker. Among many things, she shared her personal journey to Judaism, the fight against antisemitism and anti-Asian hate, and the line we must draw between "free speech" and "hate speech."
Juju ended her remarks with a beautiful comment. As a reporter, she covered the mass shooting at a country music concert in Las Vegas from several years ago. She talked about how a young woman was shot and injured and during the chaos multiple people helped her. Juju said, "It takes only one bad person to help create 100 heroes."
Finally, do not miss Fran Drescher, star of The Nanny and President of SAG/AFTRA, at our Spotlight Event on Saturday, December 2 at The Patricia Reser Center for the Arts. Pick your seats here.