Communities rally, raise funds in support of Israel
Hostilities in Gaza inspire calls for solidarity, self-defense, peace
Jewish federations and institutions around the state are holding solidarity rallies and collecting emergency funds in response to Israel’s nearly week-long conflict with Hamas in Gaza.
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Rep. Leonard Lance (R-Dist. 7) will be among the speakers at a solidarity rally at the Whippany headquarters of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, on Monday, July 21, at 9:30 a.m.
The federation is inviting members of the community to show that “we stand strong for peace” and “we stand strong for Israel's right to self-defense.”
“The rally provides an important opportunity for our community to come together to let Israel know that we stand in support of its right to defend its civilians and that we are doing all we can to ensure that U.S. government support remains strong,” said Melanie Roth Gorelick, director of the Greater MetroWest Community Relations Committee. “It is also a moment for our community to come together to show solidarity with the innocent civilians, both Israelis and Palestinians, who are victims of this terror campaign.”
Participants are asked to preregister for the event and not to bring bags into the conference room for security reasons.
The Jewish Federation of Princeton Mercer Bucks is holding a solidarity rally — cosponsored by the NJ Region the American Jewish Committee and the Board of Rabbis of PMB — at 7 p.m. on July 21 at Congregation Adath Israel in Lawrenceville.
Speakers will include Elad Strohmayer, deputy consul general at Israel’s consulate in Philadelphia; Rabbi Eric Wisnia, religious leader of Congregation Beth Chaim in Princeton Junction and president of the board of rabbis; and Michael Feldstein, president of AJC’s Central Region.
“This is an event to bring the Jewish community together to show our solidarity not only for Israel but for each other and for the global Jewish community,” said John Rosen, executive director of AJC's New Jersey Area. “The second purpose is a reminder that we have friends right here in this community who understand Israel’s plight and are willing to stand alongside us to support Israel’s right to defend itself.”
All of the state’s Jewish federations are participating in an Israel Emergency Campaign coordinated by Jewish Federations of North America.
“We have been promoting an all-on gung-ho emergency fund-raising campaign, and we’ve gotten some very good response,” said Keith Krivitzky, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Monmouth County. “We want to encourage those already connected to be supportive of Israel but our real challenge is reaching the majority of the Jewish community who may not have a strong personal connection and are not sure where they stand. We are seeking to aggressively reach them.”
The Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County is conducting what it calls the “Operation Protective Edge Relief Fund,” after Israel’s official name for it military campaign. The goal is to “stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of Israel at this critical time,” said federation executive director Susan Antman.
“We hit $20,000 in less than two weeks,” she told NJJN. “When it comes to responding to emergencies in Israel, Middlesex always steps up. We have lots of families and teenagers there now through Birthright grants who we are hearing from.”
The hostilities between Israel and Hamas followed fast on the murders of three yeshiva students in Israel, an event that also inspired local solidarity events.
The Monmouth federation held memorial services for the murdered Israeli teenagers on July 1 and 2. “We needed a second service because so many in the community wanted to participate,” said Krivitzky. He said more than 400 people attended the memorials at Temples Shaari Emeth in Manalapan and Beth Ahm in Aberdeen.
Krivitzky is heading to Israel on July 17 on a four-day personal visit to Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Rehovot. Several leaders of the Greater MetroWest federation, including its president, Leslie Dannin Rosenthal, recently returned from a mission to Israel sponsored by JFNA.
The Jewish community of Hudson County will sponsor its own “Rally to Support Israel” on Wednesday, July 23 at, at 7:30 p.m. at the Westin Hotel in Jersey City.
“We are gathering to express our hopes for a speedy end to the intimidation and bloodshed that affect all who are involved in this conflict,” said Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin, religious leader of Temple Beth Am in Bayonne.
Rabbi Robert Scheinberg, religious leader of United Synagogue of Hoboken, echoed Salkin’s remarks, saying, “The people of Israel, whether they be in the Land of Israel or here in Hudson County, NJ, stand united with all peace-loving people in praying for a quick end to hostilities and the eventual establishment of a lasting peace.”
And Rabbi Debra Hachen of Temple Beth-El of Jersey City said, “We stand with our brothers and sisters of all faiths in the Land of Israel in praying for a speedy end to violence.”