The Jewish Federations of North America, in partnership with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, are organizing the Rally for Israel on Tuesday, November 14, a gathering and vigil at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to support Israel and stand together as the American Jewish community.
The Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey and the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest will send buses to the nation’s capital, where they will link up with 146 other independent federations and 300 smaller communities around the continent, standing together in solidarity to support Israel, demand the release of the hostages, and rise up against antisemitism. Everyone is encouraged to participate at this critical time.
Jason Shames, Northern New Jersey Federation’s CEO, believes the national rally will be a powerful show of support and solidarity. “People are extremely concerned about the Israeli situation and the antisemitism here at home,” he said. “People are finding it emotionally debilitating to the point where there is a need to do something — something like the rally.
“People want to be together to support each other and stand up for what’s right.
“The media attention to the pro-Palestinian activity is disgraceful and a gross misrepresentation of true American sentiments, which show there is no moral equivalency between the Israelis and Hamas.”
He’s both proud and relieved that Jews are being so supportive of Israel, no matter how they practice their religion or connect with the community. Mr. Shames has been hearing from people he hasn’t heard from in years, sharing their concerns and solidarity. “I believe this will ultimately strengthen our community, but no one wanted to pay a price like this,” he said.
“It is vitally important for our community to join in great numbers,” Dov Ben-Shimon, MetroWest’s CEO, said. “There has never been a more urgent moment to show our love and solidarity with the people of Israel and stand against Jew-hate and hate against Israel. We anticipate families across the wide spectrum of our community to come in the tens of thousands. Federation will coordinate buses, security, and logistics with our many synagogues and agencies to ensure we have a full community presence.”
The national Jewish organizations planning the rally hope it will rival major Jewish demonstrations in 2002 and 1987 in both size and impact.
The March for Israel has three goals, according to Eric Fingerhut, CEO of Jewish Federations of North America.
Participants will demand the return of the estimated 240 hostages Hamas terrorists abducted on October 7, Mr. Fingerhut said. They also will call for efforts to combat antisemitism, which has spiked worldwide since the attack. And they will demonstrate their support for the strong backing Israel has so far received from the Biden administration and both parties in Congress.
“All three elements are important to all of our communities,” Mr. Fingerhut said. “We’re proud of what our government has done” to support Israel, “but we want them to know how much support there is not only for what they’ve done, but also for the continued efforts that are going to be needed as this long conflict continues.”
The rally, which will take place just over five weeks after Hamas’s deadly assault on Israel, was formally announced on Monday night, but efforts to fill buses and planes were already underway over the weekend.
“All classes for Yeshiva University undergraduate schools and high schools for Tuesday, November 14, are canceled,” Rabbi Ari Berman of Teaneck, YUY’s president, posted on social media on Sunday. “We are going to Washington to stand with Israel.”
It’s the kind of move that Mr. Fingerhut and William Daroff of the Conference of Presidents said in a joint interview they were asking of affiliated groups, including JCCs, day schools, and other Jewish organizations. So far, they said, the response has been enthusiastic.
Mr. Daroff said the hope was that the rally would have the impact of the 2002 pro-Israel demonstration during the Second Intifada and a 1987 mass rally to support Soviet Jewry, each of which drew more than 100,000 Jewish participants to the National Mall.
“Just as the American Jewish community and our allies spoke out with mass events in 1987 in support of Soviet Jewry and in 2002 in support of Israel during the Second Intifada, we are now in a similar moment where the American Jewish community and the American people are speaking out loudly and clearly in support of the people of Israel and demanding the unconditional return of the hostages,” he said.
The Biden administration so far has backed Israel in its refusal to consider a ceasefire until the hostages are returned and Hamas is incapacitated, while at the same time urging humanitarian pauses to allow for medical and food aid in Gaza. The president has also asked Congress for $14 billion in emergency assistance for Israel, including $10 billion for its defense. However, some of his own party’s left-wing members have issued calls for an immediate ceasefire.
Mr. Biden also wants Congress to appropriate hundreds of millions of dollars to help secure vulnerable domestic institutions. On Monday, New York’s Chuck Schumer, the Jewish Democrat who is the Senate majority leader, announced plans to increase annual funding for security grants to $1 billion, from $250 million.
Reports of antisemitic expression and assault have spiked since October 7 on campuses and in cities across the world. On Monday, a man in Los Angeles died after a pro-Palestinian protester reportedly struck him in the head.
Hamas terrorists killed 1,400 people, most of them civilians, wounded or injured hundreds of others, and abducted more than 200 since October 7, prompting Israel to mobilize 360,000 reservists and launch massive counterstrikes. More than 10,000 Gaza residents have been killed, according to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry — a propaganda outlet not known for the accuracy of its statistics. The ministry claims 3,000 are children. But not known is what portion of the total number are civilians, and how many of them have been killed by misfired rockets launched by Palestinian attackers.
The Rally for Israel follows mass pro-Palestinian demonstrations in cities around the world, including in Washington on Saturday, and aims to show that Israel enjoys just as much support.
“We’ve all heard voices of hatred and antisemitism around the globe glorifying the October 7 attacks,” a flyer for the rally says. “But these voices will never drown out those of Americans who stand against terror and with Israel.”
Mr. Daroff and Mr. Fingerhut said there were no confirmed speakers yet, although they had invited lawmakers and officials from the Biden administration at the highest level. They said that although their organizations were leading the effort, they were asking groups to put out the word in their own name about the rally, which will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. near the Capitol. (Hundreds of protesters affiliated with Jewish Voice for Peace, an anti-Zionist group, were arrested there last month while calling for a ceasefire.) Some groups, including the Conservative movement, already had done so by Monday.
Mr. Fingerhut and Mr. Daroff said they were encouraging Jewish community centers and Jewish day schools to shut down for the day and send their students to Washington. Some had already taken up the call: the North Shore Hebrew Academy on Long Island, for example, said it would bus students to D.C., and the Detroit Jewish federation invited local members to reserve spots on a chartered flight.
Ronald Halber, the director of the Greater Washington D.C. Jewish Community Relations Council, said he expected all 10 campuses in the D.C. area to empty their buildings on November 14.
“We have an obligation with a 300,000-strong Jewish community to bring a substantial number of people,” he said.
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
Learn more about the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey’s trip to the rally at jfnnj.org or (201) 820-3900.
Learn more about the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ’s trip to the rally at www.jfedgmw.org or (973) 929-3000.