Hadassah members traveled by train, by bus, by plane, by Metro, by car and on foot. We came by the thousands to Washington, D.C., to take part in the March for Israel rally on Tuesday, November 14.
We marched to the National Mall to express outrage over Hamas’ kidnapping of 240 hostages from over 30 countries, to show support for the State of Israel and to let Israelis know they are not alone in their grief and national trauma.
We came to express our joy at being Jewish and we came to fight the winds of change as antisemitism surfaces like a brush fire of hate on our college campuses, in our public schools and in our public discourse — both in our backyards in America and worldwide.
After participating in the 2017 Women’s March, which attracted a crowd of over 470,000, I never wished to find myself in such a large crowd again. It was just too much. But as part of this crowd of 290,000 on November 14, I felt as though I was with family, albeit a large family.
Hadassah women and Hadassah signs were everywhere!
Marchers, spotting the name Hadassah on the t-shirts of fellow participants, came up to one another to share their personal stories of how they were life members, or their bubbies were in Hadassah. These were the kind of stories that family members share with long-lost cousins. Am Israel chai (Israel lives)!
Prior to the official start of the rally, members of the US Congress were invited to view a short film, showing footage from the October 7 attacks on Israeli citizens by Hamas. The footage had been taken by the cameras that Hamas terrorists wore as they massacred innocent Israelis and others in their path.
Many in Congress were visibly shaken by what they saw, but it was important for them to see the evidence of the brutality that had occurred. After viewing the film, they knew. They knew why 290,000 of us were there.
We strongly urged our elected officials to keep their eyes on the fate of the hostages and to help promote their release.
I shared this historic day with many of my Hadassah sisters, as well as other groups of supporters, like Christians for Israel, who had traveled for 10 hours from Illinois to be at the rally with us. Their pastor and I had engaged in a long talk about Israel, its history, and its future. He and his congregants knew why we were all at this rally. They knew.
From elected officials to family members of hostages, speakers shared their stories and their truths. Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism, reminded us of a letter that George Washington sent to the congregants of Newport, Rhode Island’s Touro Synagogue, assuring them that “our nation gives bigotry no sanction.” Ambassador Lipstadt noted also that members of Congress shared our grief and, most of all, our hopes.
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer vowed, “No one will break us. We will rise again…. There is no greater and just cause than this.” Sen. Schumer, House Speaker Mike Johnson, and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries stood together on the stage, along with Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Kay Ernst. Joining hands, they led the vast crowd in chanting, “We stand with Israel.”
For that day, we were a greater family. We knew why we were here, and we carried that forward, back to our families and greater community.
We knew. Am Israel Chai.