Miamians Stand in Solidarity With Israel at Rally
More than a thousand South Floridians joined the Greater Miami Jewish Federation at the Michael-Ann Russell Jewish Community Center in North Miami Beach Sunday night at the Israel Solidarity Rally, raising their voices together in support of the people of Israel, echoing their dream of living in peace and security.
“We gather this evening to express our heartfelt and unwavering support for the people of Israel and our collective solidarity with them,” Federation Board Chair Brian L. Bilzin said at the start of the rally. “Tonight, we stand together to make our voices heard, so that our brothers and sisters in Israel know that they remain in our prayers and that our shared hope for a just and lasting peace remains strong.”
About 1,200 people stood in support of the people of Israel, wearing blue and white and waving Israeli and American flags, including U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.; U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Florida; U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Florida; U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Florida and U.S. Congressman-elect Joe Garcia, D-Florida. Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and the Israeli Consul General to Florida and Puerto Rico, Chaim Shacham, also spoke.
Students from the Rabbi Alexander S. Gross Hebrew Academy choir opened the rally at the Michael-Ann Russell JCC with moving renditions of the Star Spangled Banner and Hatikvah. Rabbi Jonathan Berkun, President of the Rabbinical Association of Greater Miami and spiritual leader of Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center led the crowd in a prayer for peace. Toward the end of the rally, members of the choir and Berkun sang a special prayer for the Israeli Defense Forces.
Nily Falic, National Chair of the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, spoke on behalf of the group and expressed her pride as an American and an Israeli.
Leading the rally was Federation Past-President Norman Braman.
“We stand here tonight as a Jewish community, but we are supported by people of all faiths, backgrounds, ethnicities, cultures and communities, who stand with us and with the people of Israel,” Braman said. “We are here tonight to stand with the people of Israel, to not let terrorism win and to pray for a just and lasting peace for all people in the Middle East, who deserve better days ahead. I do believe that there are better days ahead. Better days for our nation and better days for Israel.”
Braman introduced Sen. Rubio, who described Israel as “a real miracle in the desert.”
“What I love about Israel is it stands for democracy and freedom,” Rubio said.
Ros-Lehtinen led the huge crowd in a chant, asking them if they supported democracy and human rights, with the crowd yelling back “I support Israel!”
“Recent events provided a great reminder of the difference between Israel and its enemies, like Hamas, other violent Palestinian extremists, and their state sponsor — the Iranian regime,” Ros-Lehtinen said. Wasserman Schultz talked about the importance of community and the horrors mothers have felt as the rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel.
“I don’t think we can remind America and the world too often about the importance of the Israeli-American relationship,” she said.
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