From Our CEO
Will I See You in Washington?
November 10th, 2023

In April 2002, I took my eldest son, who was just 9 years old, to Washington, D.C., to march for Israel.

It was during the Second Intifada, when Israel was defending itself against suicide bombings at cafes and pizzerias that had made daily life untenable. Though my son was only in fourth grade at the time, I wanted him to look out on our nation’s capital and witness our people and our allies as far as the eye could see. I wanted him to know that even as a child, his voice mattered. And I wanted to teach him that the Jewish people will not stand silent — we fight for what's right. And we support each other.  

The Washington Post reported the next day: “The cause of Israel drew a multitude of Americans yesterday to the historic West Front of the U.S. Capitol…”

It went on to note one of the more renowned speakers:

“‘This day will be remembered in the history of American Jewry,’ Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Prize-winning author and philosopher, told the audience from the podium, adding that those in attendance would have something to tell their grandchildren one day.”

I also vividly remember, as a much younger man, attending the historic rally in Washington on behalf of Soviet Jewry in 1987 and the fierce sense of connection joining with hundreds of thousands of people demanding: “Let my people go!”

Once again, history is calling on us. On November 14, 2023, we’re gathering in Washington, D.C., for Israel, for the hostages, and against antisemitism.

Since the war began, UJA and our partner JCRC-NY have already organized two large rallies for Israel. The first was on October 10 in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, where Governor Hochul and Mayor Adams expressed their unwavering support before a crowd of 25,000 people. And just this Monday, November 6, we gathered over 10,000 strong on the Upper West Side to mark 30 days (the Shloshim) since the October 7 massacre in Israel. 

UJA Federation of New York >> <p><em><span style="font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 105%; font-family: 'Cambria',serif; mso-fareast-font-family: Calibri; mso-fareast-theme-font: minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family: Calibri; color: #111111; mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA;">Our United for Israel vigil and rally drew over 10,000 people on Monday, November 6</span></em></p>

Our United for Israel vigil and rally drew over 10,000 people on Monday, November 6

Now, there’s an even bigger national stage with communities from across the country coming together to support Israel and demand the release of all the hostages. UJA is funding more than 100 buses for our partners, including JCCs, day schools, and synagogues across New York, to bring people down to the capital. While buses filled up within hours of being announced, we encourage those who can to drive, take trains, or fly — whatever is possible. You can find more information about the march here.

Here's one of the reasons turnout matters:

After UJA’s major Monday rally, which featured Senate Majority Leader Schumer, families of hostages, Debra Messing and other celebrities and influentials, I was disturbed (if not surprised) by The New York Times coverage.

The headline was not even about our rally at all. Instead, it was titled “The Statue of Liberty Is the Setting for an Israel-Hamas War Protest,” and the primary focus of the article, plus a prominent photo, was about a few hundred people who'd gathered by the Statue of Liberty to call for a cease-fire in Gaza. Our rally, spanning at least five entire city blocks (and two side streets), with thousands of voices chanting “Bring them home!,” was mostly relegated to the bottom few paragraphs of the article.

Let's not give the Times any excuses on November 14. We want the headline.

Let's come out in such record-breaking numbers that no news outlet can turn away. Let them write that we’ve not forgotten the over 240 hostages, and that we won’t cower or make ourselves small in the face of antisemitism. Let them say that we were impassioned and loud and fearless.  

Let them hear us.  

And we will have something to tell our grandchildren one day.

Shabbat shalom