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It was amazing to see 300,000 people come together in support of Israel, to bring back the hostages, and to dispel the hatred of our nation. It was a time to come together. A time to understand you are part of a nation that is Israel. A time to feel guilty for not living in Israel. I commend all of the people who showed up.
Here is some of what I saw on my rally journey of Achdut, unity. I'm so excited to share.
The 2am Trip
The bus left at 2am from Rochester, NY, to ensure you were tired when you got there. If they held the rally later in the day, people would've got sleep. Support comes with sacrifice, and that means not getting sleep.
I heard many bus drivers protested the rally by not showing up to work. Ours protested by making us take a really long trip. If your bus refused to take you to the rally, your rally experience was much more relaxing. If the bus drivers for the people from Detroit only knew that it's not the Jews that blow up buses.
I want to give myself credit for going to the rally. I was on that bus for fifteen hours. I got to the rally and there were porta-potties. I held my bladder for twenty-six hours. And that is the background to my rally experience and bus drivers who hate Israel.
So Many People
In support of Israel, three hundred thousand people or fifteen showed up. It depends on your news sources.
The counter-rally protest had fifty thousand or forty. It depends on your sources. The counter-protesters came by bus. I believe most of them were bus drivers.
It was beautiful to see Hamon Am. Multitudes showed. Matisyahu said Shema, and the Jews of the Federations who organized the rally had no idea what was going on. To quote a bothered organizer, ‘I don’t remember those lyrics being in “One Day.”’
There is no better way to make a statement to the world than with a sign. Otherwise, you're just yelling at everybody.
So many amazing signs saying, 'I stand with Israel.' It's important to stand when you're at a rally. Sitting is more of a protesting thing. I personally didn't bring a sign. My arms get too tired to support Israel.
I saw no signs from people from Detroit.
People Wearing Israeli Flags
People were wearing flags throughout the Mall. This has taken the place of signs at many Jewish protests and rallies around the world. It has turned into a well-known Jewish custom to wrap a flag in solidarity. Either that or five thousand people forgot to bring their jackets.
A Lot of People Taking Pictures
Once a rally starts, you are either a person holding a sign or a journalist.
Most people opt for photojournalism, which they officially syndicate on X.
I followed many of these pundits. I must admit, I was a bit skeptical of their journalistic integrity. Their posts would hold more weight and be more official if they didn't pop their face into every picture.
Tons of New Yorkers Showed
So many people. It was beautiful. I know tons of New Yorkers were there. The subway was very loud.
Everybody Chanting 'Bring Them Home'
It was beautiful to see the support. Everybody was in unison chanting to bring home the hostages.
Chuck Schumer started chanting, 'Let them go.' Chuck saw people with Yarmulkes, and he thought he was at a Seder. One of the aides had to remind Chuck it wasn't Passover. To which Chuck responded, 'I really am Jewish.'
Chuck Schumer Saying He Supports Israel
I didn't expect that.
I saw congress saying they support Israel at the rally. Ten minutes later I saw them vote against sending aid to Israel. But they were very supportive at the rally.
One representative said, 'No ceasefire until Israel does what it needs to.' That had the crowd going. Many were in shock to see so many people at the Israel rally in support of Israel.
I Felt Bad about Clapping So Much
I was in the rally spirit.
It's hard to know when to clap. So many great speakers showing support for Israel and the Jewish people. You just want to clap. Yet. It's hard. Especially when they're making statements of affirmation.
I clapped at times I want to take back right now:
The speaker shouted, 'From the river to the sea is an explicit call for the extermination of the Jewish people.' Why did I clap for that? I want to make it clear to all of you, I do not support the extermination of my people.
'Jews on college campuses are being attacked.' I clapped for that too. Everybody was clapping. She ended that in a loud voice. You had to clap. I don't support attacks of Jewish students. I hope all the Jews there don't support it either. Clapping just seemed like the right thing to do.
'How anybody can sympathize with terrorists?!' I don't sympathize with terrorists, but I clapped. Thank Gd she added, 'is unimaginable.' I felt better about my show of support at that moment.
The Loud Speech Clap Ender
They know how to get us to clap. So many of them did that loud abrupt ender to a sentence and I just started applauding.
Am Yisrael Chai
I must've joined sixty Am Yisrael Chai flash mobs. On the stairs, at the mall, on the subway, in the middle of the Chazin repetition of the Amidah.
That’s how you get people to join you. You sing Am Yisrael Chai and a Jewish flash mob breaks out. And I start clapping.
It Was Very Peaceful
There were no fights. This had me questioning if this was a rally in America.
I can't remember the last time I saw a rally on American soil without extreme violence. I am guessing the rally was rigged with Israelis. There must've been a lot of Israelis there, as I noticed nobody trying to physically harm anybody else. How you can make a point without maiming other people is beyond me.
And no counter-protesters got hurt.
We Thanked the Security and the Police
At that point, I knew it was a right-wing protest with Chuck Schumer.
The Singers Were Amazing
It was all about unity in the end. Peace. Peace for all. That's all we want. That's all any of the Jews want. Peace, our brothers and sisters living in safety, and for pacifists to stop attacking us with Palestinian flags.
The singers exemplified that. And nobody judged the Maccabeats. That was the greatest show of care we have for our fellow Jews. True Jewish entertainers hitting the stage, bald. Nobody batted an eye when we saw a bunch of entertainers without hair at the age of twenty-eight. They just understood they were Ashkenazi.
And then there was Matisyahu coming out of retirement with white hair.
It was an amazing experience and show of solidarity. This is how we stand up against racism. With a bald human beatboxer.
Bus Driver Not Driving Us Back
I don't know if our bus driver started his protest late, but he made us wait two hours to leave Washington. He said he needed an eight hour break.
At that point, I really needed to go.
It was important to be there, even if your bus driver refused to drive you. Even if were stuck at the airport and had access to clean toilets, you still showed your support for our people. I just pray that the Jewish kids are able to go to school on yellow buses in New York.
Am Yisrael Chai. That seems like the right way to end the journey. Hopefully your clapping right now. AM YISRAEL CHAI!!! Now you're clapping.
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My kids take after me. Due to Kibud Av vEim, they always let me take first.
You get it? ‘Take after me' means to be like their dad. Instead, they let their dad fill his plate first, as per the Mitzvah to honor parents. Very good kids. If we can have a positive influence on the next generation with our puns, that is the blessing.
Giving Tzedakah, I like to know where the charity is going. That charity box in the front is for kids who need help with their artwork.