One of my dear friends in Israel sent me a few pictures via whatsapp from the funeral of Max Steinberg, z”l. I wrote back to her, “Thank you for being there”. In retrospect this was odd because I have never met Max and don’t know his family, but I still felt some sort of bond with him, that he was one of us; just one of the Americans. She replied to me that it was the least she can do and continued, “We do everything we can to not feel helpless”. It was at that moment that I realized that it’s not just those of us abroad that feel helpless, but rather it’s everyone who can’t seem to bring a solution to this problem. It’s the Israelis who have not been called for miluim, the Americans who feel they can’t do much from afar, the Israelis dispersed throughout North American summer camps, and the Jews throughout Europe who have become innocent victims of anti-Semitism. I felt this way too, but over the past few days my feelings have changed and I know now that I am not helpless.

I was in Times Square, NYC this past Sunday, along with roughly four thousand others. We were Jewish, Christian, Palestinian, American, French, Israeli, religious, secular, gay, and straight. We were right wing and left wing, democrat, republican, and everything in between. We sang songs, danced, recited prayers, and stood together for peace in Israel and against Hamas. In the days leading up to the rally I was unsure of whether or not I should attend because I had been so overwhelmed by the bias in the media and the pain I was feeling for my brothers and sisters in Israel, who have to be on the front lines of this battle in more ways than one. I can tell you now that I am so glad that I was there because the unity felt that day was invigorating and inspiring. That day we not only took a public stand as a strong community fighting for a common goal, but we were there for one another, and offered a hand to hold and a shoulder to lean on. We are all feeling the pain of lives lost of boys and men who were too young to die, of kids who shouldn’t have to be worried about spending time on a playground or riding a bike. And this is how we are fighting back and not feeling helpless. We are standing together, resilient, and proud to wave the Israeli flag. Those of us in the Diaspora feel this conflict in other ways- whether it be watching the “first hand” accounts of the media, or our ever changing Facebook minifeeds, or simply worrying about our loved ones, and this is how we are giving those who are all too quick to judge, a reason to stop, listen, and question. We feel a duty to fight back, especially in America, because we are blessed with the freedom to do so. When we joined together in Times Square it was against terror, plain and simple. It was against Hamas’ unrelenting rocket fire, against Hamas’ use of human shields, against Hamas’ despicable treatment of the people of Gaza, and against pure acts of hatred and anti-Semitism that have been unleashed all over the world.

Sometimes, when we’re frustrated and can’t find a solution to a problem, the only comfort available is that found in the company of others, so that we’re not left lost in our own field of questions.

We stand together, more unified than ever, for Israel and for peace. #IstandforIsrael #NYCLovesIsrael