On Tuesday, I stood shoulder-to-shoulder with 300,000 fellow Jews, allies, and supporters at the March for Israel in Washington, DC. We came together in record numbers – united, proud, and strong – to rally for Israel, to free hostages, and against antisemitism. The beautiful autumn day in our nation’s capital provided much-needed light during what has been a period of great darkness.
We are grateful to the Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations for putting this whole event together in less than two weeks! Three experiences from the day stand out particularly in my mind:
- I felt uplifted by the broad representation of the American Jewish community present. The sheer scale and diversity – all ages, denominations, backgrounds, and perspectives – created a real sense of Jewish peoplehood with a shared mission and destiny. After the past 40 days of uncertainty and anxiety, I felt steadied and strengthened. And, of course, I loved running into so many leaders, philanthropists, colleagues, and friends from so many different parts of my life.
- The top Democratic and Republican leadership of the US Senate and House of Representatives – along with over 100 members – took time out of their day to join us in solidarity. I had the opportunity to thank several of them for their presence, conviction, and support and marveled as they watched, listened, and applauded the compelling and emotional words offered by the mothers of the hostages, Israel’s President Isaac Herzog, and one of my heroes, Natan Sharansky. So validating and affirming!
- Most of all, I was especially inspired by the significant showing of 30,000 young people – 10% of the entire crowd – representing camps, youth movements, schools, and Hillels. The special pre-event, co-created by the teens and college students themselves, displayed a wonderful collaboration across varied organizations and sentiments, all under one banner. Their words and their actions struck a chord. know our participating campers and staff felt a sense of pride, unity, and strength standing together, right up front, on the National Mall. I want to offer a special “shout-out” to Adina Frydman, CEO of Young Judaea, who spearheaded this amazing pre-rally initiative and to Root One, who sponsored the event.
I am optimistic that the energy and positivity displayed in Washington will sustain all of us for many years to come.
This coming Saturday night, I am honored to be traveling to Israel with a group of CEOs and senior leaders from major Jewish and Israel education organizations. During the short three-day mission, we will meet with survivors of the October 7th massacre, parents of hostages, and Israel educational leaders. Especially given the current climate, our trip will help inform how we redesign compelling, age-appropriate Israel education, experiences, and programming in the era following October 7th and the war with Hamas.
We know that Jewish camp this summer will be more important than ever before as a respite from these troubling times for campers and counselors alike. Fostering and nurturing a strong connection to and relationship with Israel continues to be a core component of the Jewish camp experience.
Just as we did this week in Washington and as we will do in Israel this coming week, may we continue to stand together, united, proud, and strong. Our camps – indeed our communities – count on it!
Thank you for all you do to support and strengthen our Jewish future. Am Yisrael Chai.