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Our Ithaca Community Went to Washington DC

Marcia Zax and Davide Sayada at the Washington MarchIva Lesky

Am Israel Chai - The people of Israel live!     On November 14, Jewish Federations of North America organized what turned out to be the largest rally in US history on behalf of the Jewish people and Israel.  Filling the National Mall in Washington DC, almost 300,000 people of all ages and religious affiliations came to Stand with Israel, to speak out against hate of Jews, and to call  for the release of the 240 hostages.   

Locally, Hillel at Cornell arranged for 2 buses to take students to the Rally.  Community members were invited to travel with Hillel. Marcia Zax and Davide Sayada were among the Ithaca community members who traveled with the Cornell contingent. Iva joined Rabbi and Jeff Spitzer on the Jewish Federation bus from Scranton.   

The amazing spirit of the day was evident from the very start as thousands upon thousands of Jews and non-Jews of every affiliation shared food, conversation, and prayers. There were people of all ages, the very young in baby carriages, and some people who even came in wheelchairs.  There were a multitude of young adults from schools across the East coast and beyond. It was a beautiful cross section of America. Participants carried posters with individual hostages’ photos and waved the US and Israeli flags. Many wore T shirts identifying with which group they belonged and with slogans such as “One People United”, “We Have Your back,” “We Stand with Israel.”  100s of thousands chanted in unison and with tremendous spirit: “Bring them Home.”  and “Am Israel Chai”. We sang prayers together.  We cried together.  

The Rally was inspiring and entirely peaceful.  Every speaker, whether from the right or left of the political spectrum urged the release of the hostages.  Every speaker spoke out against anti-semitism.  There were no hateful comments.   Several speakers stood out.  Senator Charles Schumer strongly and clearly expressed his support. Representative Hakeem Jefferies eloquently expressed his compassion. Three relatives of  abducted hostages  spoke, breaking our hearts as theirs are broken. As Rachel Goldberg, mother of hostage Hersh Goldberg Polin said, “We all have third degree burns on our souls,”

Will the Rally help stop anti-semitism, will it help bring the hostages home, will it help Israel? We don’t know.  We do know that we absolutely had to participate. Our Israeli friends and family shared with us how meaningful it was to see such a strong show of support.  It gave them hope and a positive feeling of unity with the Jews in the US.  The huge turnout also showed our government how much we appreciate their support, standing with us and Israel, even when it is not politically convenient.   The strong sense of unity of the Jewish people and the good will of all who attended boosted our spirits and filled us with hope.  


Iva Lesky and Marcia Zax

Members of the Ithaca Jewish Community