Yesterday I joined an estimated 290,000 Jews and our allies at the “March for Israel” on the Mall. Below is one of the pictures I took at the event:
It was inspiring to stand together with a massive crowd consisting mostly of other Jews in all our magnificent diversity. There were women and girls in modest skirts and men in the standard yeshiva “uniform” of white shirt, black pants, and a black velvet kippah covered with a black fedora. There were high school and college students in jeans and t-shirts or sweatshirts. Groups from as far away as California and Canada, Jews of every denomination and of none. Speakers included the progressive commentator Van Jones and the right-wing pastor John Hagee; Speaker Michael Johnson and Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries; Senators Chuck Schumer and Joni Ernst. All were received warmly. While there is much that divides us politically as both Americans and as Jews, the overwhelming majority of American Jews support Israel’s right to exist as a secure and independent Jewish and democratic state, want Hamas to release the hostages unconditionally, and oppose antisemitism at home and abroad. These are the points that brought us to the Mall and these are the points that will continue to unite us for as long as necessary.
I want to note that today is the second yahrzeit of my father Elliott Arian z’l and I felt his spirit with me yesterday at the March. When my Dad finished high school, he delayed going to college for two years to work with the Haganah and then the Israel Defense Forces to help with the clandestine purchase and shipping of WWII surplus weapons to Israel. When WWII ended there was a lot of surplus war materiel available which in theory was supposed to be melted down for scrap. Jewish scrap metal dealers bought it in coordination with the Haganah and IDF and shipped it to Israel when both the US and the Soviet Union would not officially sell weapons to the nascent Jewish state. My Dad risked jail to participate in this effort without which the State of Israel might never have come into being.
As a reminder, I am having drop-in hours on Thursday afternoons from 2 to 4 at the shul. You do not need to make an appointment -- that would negate the whole point of drop-in hours -- but I’d urge you to check and make sure I am there regardless as sometimes there are unavoidable pastoral or other emergencies which might take me away from the building.
As always, if I can do anything for you or you need to talk, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301-977-0768 rather than through the synagogue office. I am happy to meet you at the synagogue by appointment. I have been spending more time in the synagogue recently but if you want to speak with me it’s best to make an appointment rather than assuming I will be there when you stop by.
Rabbi Charles L. Arian