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Home December 2023 The Heart of New Jersey in D.C.

The Heart of New Jersey in D.C.

Photo Credit: Ralph Alswang for Jewish Federations of North America

Jlife caught up with members of our community to get their take aways from the November, 14th rally. 

Igor Shersher 

When did you decide to participate in the march?
    As soon as we learned about the Federation’s efforts to organize the rally and transportation. By then, our local buses were full, but the Federation staff was incredibly instrumental about providing additional capacity, and we were eventually placed on a Marlboro bus. Our son was able to secure a seat on one of Manhattan buses.

What were your reasons for wanting to participate in the march?
    Simple: to support our people in the face of increased senseless Jew hatred here and around the world, to show Jewish solidarity to the US government, to support every effort Israel makes in securing peace for its people and return as many hostages as humanly possible.

How would you rate your personal support for Israel?
    Israel is our historic and spiritual homeland. We support it fully and visit it regularly.

How would you rate the United States’ support for Israel?
    Surprisingly consistent. It would be even better if Jewish elected leaders actually followed through on what they say publicly. 

Given the level of antisemitism and the spike in it since the October 7th massacre, do you currently fear for your own safety?
    Yes, more than usual. 

Do your friends and family share your views/ support of Israel?
    Yes.

Have you visited Israel in the past and do you plan to visit in the immediate future?
    Yes, on many occasions. And we plan to be there regularly in the future.

What was your overall experience attending the November 14 march?
    To see a peaceful well-organized gathering of 300,000 Jews from all backgrounds, ages and dispersed communities, was humbling. It was hugely important to show Jewish unity to our potential friends, as well as our numerous enemies.

What was the best thing about attending that day?
    To rekindle the feeling of being a part of our extended Family during times of increasing chaos and Jew hatred.

Were you presented with any challenges by attending the march?
    Nothing we couldn’t handle. The march was incredibly well organized.

Do you feel that your Jewish community supports Israel?
    Without a doubt.

Do you feel that our university system supports Israel?
    All of our children graduated from prominent universities, all of which have recently shown to be enemies of Jews and the truth. We are ashamed of the brainwashing happening in US universities.

Given the choice, would you attend a march like this again?
    Yes, every time.

Do you have any advice for other Israel supporters?
    Be careful with your children’s education. Science, arts and technology are often packaged with a heavy share of hatred for our way of life, in the United States, in Israel and as Jews. Best universities are often a poor choice for our future. If you support your alma matter financially—find better causes. Support your people—not institutions that promote hatred for our people and teach our children to question the truth.
    When you are not in agreement with Israeli government and their policies, don’t let your disagreements cloud a larger view—the Country of Israel and the Family of Israel should be supported by the People of Israel. Our enemies are united against us. Joining them will cause our own downfall. 

Stacy Gallin
When did you decide to participate in the march?
    As soon as I heard about the march, I knew it was something I wanted to be part of. 

Photo Credit: Chris A. Williams for Jewish Federations of North America

What were your reasons for wanting to participate in the march?
    There are so many reasons why I wanted to participate in the march. From a professional standpoint, I am the Founding Director of the Benjamin Ferencz Institute for Ethics, Human Rights and the Holocaust, a nonprofit organization dedicated to using the lessons of the Holocaust to combat antisemitism and all forms of identity-based hate, promote justice and human dignity, and engage, educate and empower the next generation of ethical leaders. I have spent my entire career emphasizing what can happen when ethics are corrupted by political ideology to create a hierarchy of human life where some people are valued more than others. I teach people that because of what the Holocaust and has taught us, it is our responsibility to stand up and speak out whenever we see this kind of injustice. While what has taken place on and since October 7th is not the same as the Holocaust, the echoes of this tragic part of our history can’t be ignored. From a personal perspective, I felt like being part of this march was something that I could do today in 2023 to make sure that my voice is heard to prevent the past from repeating itself. I wanted to be part of the march to represent my ancestors whose voices were silenced because they were Jewish and to show my children the importance of using their voice.

How would you rate the United States’ support for Israel?
    I do a lot of work internationally because of my job. I was in Portugal the week after the October 7th massacre and had the opportunity to speak with the Israeli Ambassador to Portugal. When I told him I was from the United States and that he has our full support, he said that we are one of the few countries he never worries about because he knows we are always with him. I think that attitude is correct. I do believe that the United States stands with Israel.

Given the level of antisemitism and the spike in it since the October 7th massacre, do you currently fear for your own safety?
    No

Do your friends and family share your views/ support of Israel?
    Yes.

Have you visited Israel in the past and do you plan to visit in the immediate future?
    I have visited Israel many times in the past, both for personal and professional reasons.  I do not have any plans to visit in the immediate future.

What was your overall experience attending the November 14 march?
    I found the march to be a ray of light at a time when darkness seems to be all-consuming. 

What was the best thing about attending that day?
    The best thing about attending the march was that it was an opportunity to stand with people who were all united in the fight to bring the hostages home and to work together to combat antisemitism and support Israel. I met people from all over the country and from different faiths and background, but we shared a common belief in the importance of human dignity, justice and peace. There was no arguing or fighting that day. We all stood together as one, hoping and praying for a better future.

Were you presented with any challenges by attending the march?
    No.
Do you feel that your Jewish community supports Israel?
    Yes.

Photo Credit: Ralph Alswang for Jewish Federations of North America

Do you feel that our university system supports Israel?
    Absolutely not. There are so many failures that have become apparent in higher education since October 7th. This is not to say that they didn’t exist before—they most certainly did—but October 7th was a catalyst for the antisemitism that had been brewing to come to the forefront in a way most people had never imagined. The lack of moral clarity and leadership on every level—from the administration to the faculty to the students—is arguably the biggest challenge now facing American Judaism because no matter what happens in Israel over the next few weeks and months, we know that we are facing a crisis of character that will require much longer to address. 

Given the choice, would you attend a march like this again?
    Yes.

Do you have any advice for other Israel supporters?
    Every voice matters, but not everyone can use their voice in the same way. Find a way to show your support that feels comfortable to you. This is a very challenging time for so many of us. Some people respond by marching. Some people respond by writing. Some choose to wear a magen david. Some pray every day. Some donate money. Whatever it is that makes you feel like you are both supporting Israel and being supported while doing it is the right thing for you at this time.  

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