A group of close to 100 traveled from Temple Ner Tamid in Bloomfield to rally in Washington Tuesday. (Photo courtesy Rabbi Mac Katz)

Close to 100 people from area synagogues boarded buses at Temple Ner Tamid Tuesday to attend the March for Israel rally at the National Mall in Washington. Rabbi Marc Katz of Temple Ner Tamid shared an account of his experience and others who joined with him:

“It was important to me to take my congregation since with rising antisemitism we are feeling so alone,” said Rabbi Marc Katz. “The solidarity of 290,000 strong helped us all understand we are all in this together. We sang, prayed, cheered, and collectively mourned the current situation. The speakers were all over the political map but even in expressing a diversity of opinions all conveyed a deep love and support for Israel and the Jewish people.”

Josh Katz, past-president of Temple Ner Tamid, said: “Obviously, it was important to show up strong for Israel. I had friends attending from all over the country to show the world and our fellow citizens the importance of Israel to the survival of the Jewish people, and to cement the decades long allyship of Israel and the United States.

“I also wanted to be there as we set an example for the world by showing how to properly support your cause. No one wore masks, because we’re proud of who we are and what Israel has become. No one desecrated American flags or hung clothing on statues or chanted coded slogans calling for the death of an entire people. Actually, Matisyahu led a song about peace. I wanted to be with people who love America and love Israel and understand how to properly express the values of Western Civilization,” said Katz. 

Craig Levine, a member and past-president of Montclair’s Bnai Keshet Reconstructionist Synagogue, said: “I felt compelled to attend today because friends stand by friends in hard times, and Israel has not known a time this hard for decades, arguably ever; because antisemitism, which we knew to be prevalent on the white nationalist right, has been revealed to also be disconcertingly prevalent in certain sectors of the far left; and because no amount of attention on the plight of the hostages in Gaza could possibly be enough. The things I found most moving about the event, more than anything said by any of the speakers, were the size and diversity of the crowd. If early estimates are correct — I’ve seen 290,000 written — this would have been the largest pro-Israel rally outside Israel in the history of the state. And walking through the crowd, it was clear that it included people from all sectors of the American Jewish community – a community that disagrees about all manner of things, including many involving Israel, but decided, in my view rightly, that at this moment solidarity should trump division.”

B’nai Keshet member Josie Harris said: “I felt like I had to be part of today’s rally to represent myself, my family, my community in support of Israel and to plead to bring the hostages home as soon as possible and to stand up to terrorism and against anti-Jewish hatred here and abroad.  I worry about innocent people dying on all sides and want the Palestinians also to be freed from Hamas terror.”

“It was so powerful to be part of the enormous crowd, singing Hatikvah, chanting  “Bring them Home” – seeing signs from all over the US and Canada,” said Harris. “Hearing from the families of the hostages directly urging us to continue to work and pray for their release was incredibly moving.”

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