2,000 Show Support for Israel During Rally at Federation

Tags: Federation, Israel, Overseas, Advocacy

  • Share This Story

Danelle Ben Bassat, left, of Pepper Pike attempts to comfort Yael Herooty of Beachwood. Bob Jacob/CJN


Article reprinted with permission from Cleveland Jewish News

As the war in Israel entered Day 3 following a surprise attack from Hamas near the Gaza border, 2,000 people came together Oct. 9 at the Jewish Federation of Cleveland to pray and show support for the Jewish state.

As news of the Oct. 7 attack came out, the Federation broke its Shabbat silence to share its support of Israel and announce the rally and the special “Cleveland Stands With Israel” Fund. The rally featured clergy, community leaders and elected officials among its speakers and attendees.

“We come here today to show Jewish Cleveland’s unbreakable commitment to Israel and the Israeli people,” Dan Zelman, Federation board chair, told attendees in his welcoming remarks. “... By being here today, we make clear to the barbaric members of the terrorist organization Hamas that our resolve cannot and will not be weakened.”

He spoke of the atrocities committed by Hamas in the attack against young people at a festival, families in their homes and Holocaust survivors, as well as the growing death toll of the war.

Zelman said the Federation is sending $1.2 million to support the victims of terror in Israel, and continuing to work with its overseas partners in Israel to provide resources and address needs as they emerge. He welcomed the community to contribute to the newly created fund to continue this work.

U.S. Rep. Shontel Brown, D-Cleveland, took to the stage next as she reiterated President Joe Biden’s “rock solid” support for Israel and her plans to return to Washington, D.C., to work with Congress in providing aid.

“As a Black woman, I understand how you carry historical and generational trauma with you, how you feel this pain across time,” Brown told attendees. “And I know that these attacks hurt even more given the surge in antisemitism that you have experienced in recent years, and quite frankly was the last time we were together in this space.”

Brown previously attended the Federation’s “Shine A Light on Antisemitism” Chanukah menorah lighting ceremony last December.

“Therefore this is an important moment for us to stand together and to unite in our resolve,” she said. “We have to stand together to support Israel’s right to exist and Jewish people’s right to exist.”

Then, Rabbis Binyamin Blau of Green Road Synagogue, Yael Dadoun of The Temple-Tifereth Israel and Scott Roland of Congregation Shaarey Tikvah took turns offering prayers for those who have fallen, those wounded and in need of healing, and for peace.

Blau spoke of how personal this war is for him and others in the community as his son studies at a Yeshiva in Israel and his nephews were recently called up to serve in the Israel Defense Forces. As he mentioned how his synagogue was built by Holocaust survivors, he spoke of how Israel will rebuild.

“Am Yisrael is eternal,” Blau said. “And we will survive, and we’ll be victorious, and we will rebuild.”

As the Jewish faith begins the Torah from the beginning this Shabbat Oct. 13, Dadoun spoke of the creation story and the accepted order that the Jewish tradition is based.

“In the last 48 hours, that order has been breached in unimaginable and unforgettable ways,” she said. “And in this time, it is our duty to create a unified global community, one that puts differences aside and focuses on what’s important: Bringing Israelis home and establishing the peace that has long been desired.”

As Roland prayed for peace, he extended such prayers to peace of mind for those with loved ones in Israel.

“There’s a spark within each of us that roars to a raging flame with the desire to fight, to cry out, to help and to somehow understand,” he said. “Amid the worst tragedies our people have endured, we have somehow maintained our prayers for peace.”

Lydia Frankel, an Israeli member of the Federation’s board of trustees, shared that on Oct. 7 she was actually packing and preparing to go to Israel to be with her sister after losing her nephew. Her family later begged her not to come as the news of the war came out.

She then spoke of how the Israeli community in Cleveland came together to be activists and connect with organizations to find ways to help.

“I am one of the many (Israelis) here, one of thousands of Israelis who are living in Cleveland,” she said. “My story is a story of many of us here. We were glued (to the news), but as Israelis after 24 hours, we took action.”

Sue Borison, chair of the Federation’s community relations committee, closed out the program before the community sclichim took to the stage to sing “Hatikvah,” the Israeli national anthem. Cantor Vladimir Lapin of Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple had opened the program with the singing of the U.S. national anthem.

Borison said she has been in touch with family and friends in Israel. A former Clevelander compared the war to the pogroms while she also told her of all the ways Israelis have taken action in the face of the hardships.

“Today we join together to support each other, to let our Israeli family know that we are thinking of them and to pray together for a speedy end with no more loss of life,” Borison said.

Elected officials across the state and local governments were among the thousands in attendance at the rally. In a list provided to the CJN by the Federation, leaders in attendance from the state included state director for Senator Sherrod Brown, John Ryan, state Sens. Jerry Cirino and Kent Smith, and state Reps. Steve Demetriou and Casey Weinstein.

From Cuyahoga County and the city of Cleveland were Cuyahoga County Executive Chris Ronayne, Cuyahoga County Councilmember Sunny Simon, Cleveland City Council president Blaine Griffin, majority leader Kerry McCormack and councilman Michael Polensek.

Other local government officials included Beachwood Mayor Justin Berns, Beachwood City Council president Alec Issacson and councilman Eric Synenberg; Solon Mayor Eddy Kraus; University Heights Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan and vice mayor and city council member Michelle Weiss; Cleveland Heights City Council president Melody Joy Hart and councilmembers Craig Cobb and Davida Russell; Orange Village Council president Amanda Kurland; University Heights City Counciwoman Sheri Sax; and Woodmere Mayor Ben Holbert III.

Several law enforcement organizations were also present at the event, including the Beachwood Police Department, Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department, the Cleveland Division of Police, the Edge Regional Swat Team, Cleveland FBI and JFC Security, LLC., the Federation’s security provider.

To contribute to the Federation’s community fund, visit www.jewishcleveland.org.


Watch and read more about the Community Gathering in support of Israel:

Learn More: Federation, Israel, Overseas, Advocacy