On Tuesday, November 14, at a most absurd time in the morning, I joined 183 other Minnesotan Jews (let’s just call it 180 for Chai) on a trek to our nation’s capitol for the March for Israel. I saw many familiar faces and tons of new ones – but on that day, it didn’t matter at all. We were one. We were one group of many but we were the only ones wearing maroon and gold – which came in handy when trying to meet up with others.
But I of course did not march alone – there were nearly 300,000 of us from all walks of life, all forms of Judaism, and all parts of the country. I saw Reform Jews and Hassidic Jews and gay Jews and Jews by choice and young Jews and old Jews and disabled Jews and Jews of color and Jewish politicians and Jewish musicians and Jewish celebrities and Jewish advocates and Jewish allies and Jewish influencers. It was beautiful.
The March on Israel, now known as the largest gathering of Jews in American history was mainly about three things:
- Bring the hostages home.
- Call out and end anti-Jewish hate.
- Support Israel’s mission to wipe out Hamas.
Being on the ground and in the crowd, the overwhelming FEELING was towards the hostages and their families. Nothing you saw on the news or on TikTok can express this properly. Sure, it was called The March for Israel. But it very well could have been the March to Free the Hostages. Coming in second was the calling out of anti-Jewish hate in this country and around the world – especially on college campuses. So, yes, it could also have been The March to End Anti-Jewish Hate. And thirdly, there was certainly an element of pro-Israel/Anti-Hamas language and sentiment. You know what I didn’t hear? I didn’t hear any anti-Palestinian language. I didn’t hear any anti-Muslim comments. The March for Israel was a march for ALL of us.
I never had “March in Washington” on my bucket list, but that changed once the opportunity was presented to me. I can now tell my grandkids that I too, once marched in Washington for something important. I have never felt more proudly American and more proudly Jewish than I did on November 14.
I marched because I’m a proud Jew, a proud supporter of Israel, and a proud American. But I also marched for others.
I marched of course for my grandma who instilled in me a love for Israel and immense Jewish pride. I know she would have marched if she was still here, so I carried a picture of her with me so she could.
I marched for my oldest son, 16, who was told recently that “Hamas did what needed to be done.”
I marched for my daughter, 12, who was told recently by a peer that “I hope everyone in Israel dies.”
I marched for my 5-year old who is on a first-name basis with the armed, retired police officers who are full-time staff members at his preschool. Kids shouldn’t have to live like this.
I marched for almost 1,000 Detroit-area Jews who were denied transportation to the event because they were Jews.
I marched for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Hillel kids whose flight was canceled at the last minute and likely didn’t make it to Washington.
I marched for Rabbi Aaron Weininger who of course would have been with us but instead was heading home from being the ultimate mensch in Israel.
I marched for the 6 million who were murdered before seeing the creation of Israel.
I marched for my cousin’s kid at Cornell who was too worried about safety to make the trip.
I marched for friends and family who couldn’t make the trip for personal reasons or family obligations.
I marched for my fellow Jews on the far left who are having an identity crisis.
I marched for my fellow Jews on the far right who are using this moment in history as an excuse to spread hate.
I marched for all of the lone soldiers who needed our support more than ever.
I marched for a dear friend who just lost his dad and has been dealing with his grief.
I marched for my cousin in Israel to show him that we’re all in this together.
I marched for Paul Kessler who was murdered in Los Angeles for holding an Israeli flag.
I marched for all of the teachers at Gan Shelanu and Jewish preschools across the country who take care of our Jewish children each and every day.
I marched for the 238 hostages and their families to show the world that we won’t ever forget about them.
I marched for the 1,200-plus men, women, and children who were murdered by Hamas.
I marched for Israel’s right to exist.