The March for Israel at Washington: An Experience Worth Remembering

November 15, 2023
Aaron Logsdon

Rockville, Maryland, United States

Class of 2025

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On November 14th, I attended the March for Israel in Washington, D.C. The day of, as I headed to the March, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew it was supposed to be the largest gathering of American Jews in history, that it was in support of Israel, and that many important people were going to attend. My information on the event mostly ended there. After grabbing some t-shirts, posters, and flags from BBYO’s offices, my friends and I headed to the March, getting there before the gates opened at 10 AM.

I remember walking up to the stage area once the gates opened, and my friends and I were discussing our worries for the event. At the time, the National Mall was nearly empty. My friend told me, “What if no one shows up?” It didn’t seem like many people were going to attend, and we feared that it wasn’t going to get the reception we were told it was. Fortunately, we happened to be very early to the event. The reality was something greater than I could have ever expected. Over 290,000 estimated people attended the rally; that’s more than any other protest in D.C. in history, more than the March on Washington, and the number labels the event as the largest gathering of Jews and pro-Israel activists in American history. 

As the student pre-rally event kicked off, I quickly started to feel a sense of connection between myself and everyone else I was around, and that feeling didn’t go away for the next five hours that I was there. All around me were Jews covered head-to-toe in Israel apparel, friendly and excited to be there. One moment, a group of people to my left would be chanting, “Am Yisrael Chai,” while a stranger to my right would ask, “Hey, where are you coming from?” This feeling of community was only bolstered as the speakers came onto the stage. Students our age were sharing stories of how they’ve been impacted by anti-semitism and asking us to stand up to hate and stand up for what we believe in. It was empowering to see the impact we could make and see how even we, as young teens, could make a difference. 

Most of all, seeing that we weren’t alone was powerful. I live in a heavily Jewish area. There are many Jews in my community, in my school, all around me. However, there are still plenty of moments when I have experienced anti-semitism and felt like I’ve had to hide or felt like I was alone. But, standing there in a crowd of Jews, I’ve never felt more united as a Jewish American. Throughout the March, speakers would ask us to repeat chants like “Bring Them Home” or “No Ceasefire.” Everyone would join in, and although my ears would hurt, I would hear the message that we’re in this together.

What was impressive about this rally was how it didn’t just show that the Jews were united as a community. Still, everyone else was with us—speakers from various backgrounds and religions declaring their unwavering support for Israel. People completely unaffiliated with Judaism came up on stage and stated their support for Israel and the Jewish people. In an amazing act of support, four leaders from the United States Congress came up on stage and announced to the crowd, “We stand with Israel.”

Over the past few weeks since the war in Israel started, I’ve experienced many emotions. I’ve felt scared when anti-semitism made its way into my community. I’ve felt strong when my communities, like my council, have come together to show our support for Israel. I’ve felt alone when it seems like so many people in the world have been against Israel and the Jewish people.  At the rally, I didn’t feel scared. I didn’t feel alone. Instead, I felt excited to be a part of history. I felt happy to be there with my friends and to be able to fight for Israel. Now, I feel confident in the community we have standing behind us. 290,000 people showed up at the capital of the United States to voice their support for us. Countless world leaders and advocators voiced their support for us. At the March, we showed our support for each other and Israel. It’s been made clear to me that we are a people standing together, and we have our country behind us. At least for me, there isn’t anything that could be more reassuring.

Aaron Logsdon is an Aleph from Rockville, Maryland, whose favorite band is Pearl Jam.

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.

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