Written By Keri Doherty
Our day began in the early hours of the morning, we gathered at Temple Emanu-El at 3 am and boarded Joshua Limousine’s coach bus. We were joined by members of the community of Eastern Connecticut including representatives from Connecticut College Hillel. We then drove to Stamford to pick up members of the Jewish Community in Fairfield County. Then, we were off on the 350-mile trek to Washington D.C.
Thanks to the kindness of Duby’s Bagels and Bakery in Old Saybrook who opened on Monday especially for us, we had delicious bagels and sandwiches to eat for the journey. We arrived at FedEx Field in N. Englewood, MD at around noon. We were met there by buses from around New England. It was there that we received metro cards that would take us to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. After a crowded metro ride, we arrived at the Smithsonian stop.
It was estimated that 300,000 people were there to show solidarity and support. Parents and grandparents were there with their families, students were there with their high schools and universities, and people were there reminiscing on the Freedom Rally for Soviet Jews in 1987. We were there in peace. We were there to urge the U.S. government to do everything in their power to bring the hostages home. We were there to fight the rise in antisemitism on college campuses and around the country at large. We were not there to encourage hate; we were there to support Israel.
Speakers took the stage to articulate their perspectives on the significance of supporting Israel through this time. Representatives from diverse faiths and backgrounds highlighted the shared values and historical ties that bind our community to Israel and the need for our continued support. Actors and actresses, students, families of victims from October 7, and politicians all spoke. Although there were differing approaches, the general consensus was that we, Republicans, Democrats, Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike, stand with Israel and will not tolerate antisemitism in this country. Anila Ali, a Pakistani American Muslim and women’s rights activist spoke in support of the Jewish people, condemning the acts of terror on October 7. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), House Majority Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA.), Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) all spoke in support of Israel. After they spoke, the four of them held hands, proving both literally and symbolically that Israel was the one topic that they could all agree upon. The United States stands with Israel unequivocally.
Hatikvah. The hope. The national anthem of our beloved homeland. Since the attacks on October 7, it is safe to say that many of us started to feel a lack of hope. The Jewish people faced the worst Pogrom in our history. Instead of having the world behind us, like we have done for so many other marginalized groups, we had to watch as many not only justified, but supported the horrors that we faced. This campaign continues to spread on social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram, and the hate against the Jewish people is alarming.
However, this event fostered or re-fostered Hatikvah, the hope. For the first time since October 7, I was able to take a deep breath and see that we are stronger than their hate and that we have support that we desperately need. More importantly than that, we have each other for support and strength.