Austinites Join America’s Rally for Israel in Nation’s Capital, Among Supporters of All Ages | Shalom Austin

Austinites Join America’s Rally for Israel in Nation’s Capital, Among Supporters of All Ages

The Jewish Outlook

Dec 2, 2023

Austin community members join hundreds of thousands of fellow supporters in Washington D.C. at the March For Israel. Courtesy: Shalom Austin

By Wendy Goodman

More than 60 Austin Jewish community members traveled to Washington D.C. on November 14 to participate in the March for Israel alongside nearly 300,000 supporters, the largest pro-Israel gathering in U.S. history. 

250,000 people viewed the event’s livestream, among them were nearly 100 Austin community members who gathered at the Dell JCC to show solidarity together from home.

The march was organized by Jewish Federations of North America and Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and it welcomed a diverse tapestry of American supporters, spanning all ages, including the Austin delegation. 

Shalom Austin CEO Rabbi Daniel A. Septimus who led the trip from Austin with his team said, “I am profoundly privileged to have stood shoulder to shoulder with remarkable community leaders from Austin, including the incredible young adults (our next generation of leaders) who participated, along with individuals from across the United States at the March for Israel. Our collective commitment to Israel and the Israeli people exemplifies the strength that emerges when diverse voices unite for positive change.”

16-year-old BBYO member from Austin, Mia Stern, felt inspired and connected while participating in the March for Israel. “The passion and dedication in every single one of the 290,000+ people who went was so inspiring. Not only that, but being around that many Jewish people in that pluralistic of a setting created the feeling I haven’t felt since visiting Israel. The one I have been looking for ever since October 7th. The Jewish people can never be split or destroyed, and every time something happens, we only come back bigger and stronger.”

Stern continued, “I will NEVER be silent or stop talking about this. This is just the beginning. The Jewish community all around the world is standing up, and we are not running from antisemitism, we are fighting. Israel is going to win this. The hostages will come home. Hate will NEVER win.”

During the program, impactful speakers took the stage, their words resonating through the crowd, inspiring action and unity.

“Together we will fight against those who give legitimacy to Hamas. We’ll fight for Israel. We’ll fight for every Jew. We’ll fight against antisemitism. We’ll fight for the values and against corruption of those values which are the center of our Jewish identity…Together, we will win because we are one Jewish family,” said Natan Sharansky, former chairman of the executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel, human rights activist and author.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog received chants from the crowd when he said, “Let us cry out together, never again, never again. Never again is now!”

Speakers also passionately voiced their opposition to antisemitism, including the recent protests on some college campuses. They affirmed their commitment to tackle the rise of hate and violence and the negative forces that impact the Jewish people.

Actress Tovah Feldshuh said, “We stand here firm in confrontation of antisemitism here in these United States. We stand here today to say enough.” 

“In the United States of America, the bigotry of antisemitism must have no place, no quarter, no haven, no home,” said Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, historian and diplomat.

Elected officials took the stage, articulating a resounding message that the United States supports Israel. 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said, “History reminds us that even in the darkest days, the United States has always stood with Israel and will do everything to see that never ever changes.”

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson said, “Let me be very clear, the United States stands unequivocally with our neighbor, our friend, our ally Israel.”

Throughout the program, the crowd chanted phrases “bring them home now” demanding the return of hostages, “never again” pronouncing that the Jewish people will never again experience the atrocities of the Holocaust, and “am Israel chai” (the people of Israel live). 

Supporters of other faiths and backgrounds spoke on behalf of Israel including Pakistani American Muslim and Women’s Rights Activist Anila Ali, President of Dillard University Dr. Rochelle Ford and others.

When family members of hostages took the stage, the crowd fell silent as they shared their tragic stories.

Rachel Goldberg, mother of Hersh Goldberg-Polin who was kidnapped by Hamas said, “How we are living is hard to describe to you. We, hostage families, have lived the last 39 days in slow motion torment…But the real souls suffering are those of the hostages.” 

Goldberg concluded by chanting, “Bring them home now!”  

On this historic day at the March for Israel, the nation bore witness to an inspiring testament of unity, resilience and shared purpose. As individuals of all ages stood together in solidarity with Israel, a powerful message resonated through the crowd. This gathering was not merely an event; it was a symbol of the enduring strength that emerges when a nation unites.

Noa Fay, Columbia University student, concluded the program with encouragement. “As individuals, we may have many homes. As Jews we have but one.”

Fay continued, “Theodore Herzl, the founder of Zionism, wrote, ‘whole branches of Judaism may wither and fall, but the trunk remains.’ We lost a beautiful branch on October 7th, we did. But, as I look in front of me now, I see a very sturdy trunk, and it is from this trunk that I know more branches will grow, should we will it.” 

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