“Am Yisrael Chai,” the crowd cheered throughout the event. The voices of 290,000 pro-Israel Americans chanting in support of our community traveled to the capital ahead of us, the Washington Monument behind us, and to the White House that flanked our side. On November 14th, Jews and Israel supporters from around the world united on the National Mall in Washington DC to demand the release of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza, to condemn antisemitism, and to find community amidst continued distress.
As I walked into the rally, I immediately began seeing friends from around the country. Some came with school or youth groups, while others represented their local Jewish Federation or came with their families. Attendees represented everywhere from LA to New York to Tel Aviv. I headed towards the main stage just in time to see the International N’siah, Courtney Saxe, and other BBYO teens speak about how they have organized, fundraised, and persevered to support Israel after the October 7th attack. Courtney conveyed the great power of each individual to impact their community. The remarks of teen leaders from multiple youth movements and organizations, from religious to secular, liberal to conservative, and everything in between, emphasized the true diversity of the event. Jewish teens overcame differences in background, practice, and belief because of an authentic love for Am Yisrael. This was inspiring.
A key portion of the March was multiple musical performances. Israeli superstars Ishay Ribo and Omer Adam prompted loud singing from the teen audience close to the stage. With a surprise appearance, Matisyahu sang One Day with the crowd singing and dancing. The Maccabeats also made a comeback with their creative acapella numbers. Particularly, crowds swayed arm over arm as they sang Acheinu, a traditional prayer for the safe return of captives and others in danger. As I swayed beside multiple regional presidents I found among the crowd, we watched an Israeli cry in front of us as she prayed for the safe return of her brother fighting in Gaza. “Acheinu” translates to “our brothers.” The 290,000 marchers were brothers on November 14, a massive family all yearning for a safe Israel.
The rest of the March included speeches from congressmen, community leaders, students, and the families of hostages. Each performance and speech repeated a common theme: the Jewish community is united in its support for Israel. Unity is what made the November 14th March for Israel the largest gathering of Jews since Mount Sinai. Unity is the key to our strength.
Joshua is an Aleph from Lonestar’s Douglas Loeb AZA and really enjoys bike riding.
All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.
International Convention can be super overwhelming your first year, but with a few tips and tricks, you’ll be prepared for the best weekend of the year.
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