A rally last night (Oct. 10) in Birmingham was one of many across the U.S. where Jewish community members, civic leaders and concerned Americans gathered to show their support for Israel in its war against the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
Danny Cohn, CEO of the Birmingham Jewish Federation, welcomed those in attendance at a rally held at the Levite Jewish Community Center in Birmingham. Cohn expressed gratitude to the “partner agencies and religious institutions, elected officials and friends of the Jewish community” who came to “stand in solidarity with Israel as we continue to watch unfathomable acts of terror unfold on Israel and our people.”
“The recent attack on Israel has shaken us all,” Cohn said. “But it is more in moments like these that our unity, faith and resolve shine the brightest. We are here for Israel, for our brothers and sisters who face terror and fear, reminding them that they are not alone.
“Even though miles separate Birmingham from Jerusalem, our hearts, prayers and souls are intertwined. You (the Israeli people) are not alone in this fight. In your resilience, we find strength. In your hope, we find inspiration. And in your spirit, we find a mirror to our own indomitable will.”
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall recounted a recent visit to Israel and spoke about visiting a memorial to fallen Israeli soldiers.
“It was a reminder of the connection our state and our nation have to that great country and our wonderful ally (Israel) and the reasons we have to stand with them and beside them in this very difficult period,” Marshall said. “Tonight, I stand with you. And maybe the thing that I can bring the most is to join you in offering prayers and supplications to the one true God.”
Rabbi Steven Henkin of Temple Beth El in Birmingham said last night’s gathering provided “hope and encouragement” in the wake of the “hurt, anger, sadness, grief, disgust, shock and fear” he and others have felt since Hamas militants broke through the border between Gaza and Israel on Saturday (Oct. 7) and launched an attack. Hundreds of soldiers and civilians were killed, and Hamas took a number of Israeli hostages, including children and the elderly. Israel formally declared war on Hamas on Oct. 8.
“From one moment to next, I’m feeling something different, and I know I’m not the only one,” Henkin said. “Many of us in this room are feeling the same way, whether it’s because we have family and friends in Israel, because we have family or friends who are being sent off to war, because we have memories of our visits to the Holy Land, or we’re just appalled at the actions taken against innocent people.
“We are all grieving. We’re all mourning … for the individuals who died, the sense of safety and security that was lost or for the brutal reminder once again of how cruel humans can be toward each other,” Henkin said. “Our grief, shock and fear we can turn into compassion and support for those who need it.”
Show of support
Similar rallies of support for Israel were held in cities across the U.S. yesterday.
In New York, thousands attended a rally in Manhattan’s Midtown East Side and a candlelight vigil was held in Rockland County, an area that claims the highest Jewish population density in the U.S. Rallies also were held in Stamford, Connecticut; Miami Beach and Palm Beach, Florida; Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia; and Chicago.
In a news conference on Tuesday, President Joe Biden denounced Hamas, calling the attack against Israel “an act of sheer evil,” and stressed U.S. support for Israel as it mourns and continues its counterattack.