Sometimes it’s possible to see one thing from radically different perspectives, and to know that both are true.
As all our readers know, there was a huge rally supporting Israel and protesting antisemitism Tuesday on the Mall in Washington. Tens of thousands of people, most but not all of them Jewish, came from across the country, on buses and trains and in cars and planes, to gather, show their love for Israel and for the Jewish people, and to stand up and be counted.
Why did they have to stand up to be counted? Well, there’s no place to sit at a rally.
Because that’s the other truth of a rally.
It’s deeply, at times almost transformatively exhilarating to be at a huge rally. If you can find someone who was young in the 1970s or ’80s and went to rallies to urge freedom for Soviet Jews, you might well hear a story of a life deeply affected, even changed, by that experience. It’s the vastness, the excitement, the chance to feel deeply in public and also to feel safe and understood among people like you, the intensity of emotion, that can affect people profoundly.
It also can be incredibly boring to be at a large rally. You have to shuffle along in a herd, you have to stand, you can’t hear the speeches, people are waving signs in your face, it feels like it takes 10 hours for 10 minutes to pass. If you’re carrying a sign up high, your arms and shoulders start to ache, and where, please oh please where, is the bathroom?
We go to rallies because it matters. Not everyone can go — as with any public event, often private or work life gets in the way — but large numbers show our strength and determination, and they send participants home feeling energized. (And tired. Very, very tired.)
The rising rates of antisemitism around the world, including in this country, including in our corner of the country, are alarming. They could push us in two directions — into hiding at home, or into coming out and being in solidarity with each other.
We are enormously proud of the huge number of Jews and supporters of Israel who chose to go out and demonstrate their solidarity.
Am Yisrael chai.