The actress told the estimated 200,000 that “we are engaged in a battle fighting for a civilized world.”
By David Swindle
November 14, 2023
Addressing an estimated 200,000 people gathered on the National Mall in Washington at the “March for Israel” on Tuesday, the actress Tovah Feldshuh, who is known for playing former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, injected some humor and quick-thinking wit into an otherwise sobering speech.
“My Hebrew name is Tovah Feldshuh, and my Starbucks name is Tovah Feldshuh,” she began. “We stand here in the tens of thousands, and usually even if you have 10 Jews you have 10,000 opinions. But today, we stand in the thousands to say Am Yisrael chai, ‘the people of Israel live.’”
The actress referenced her short physical stature but said she stands “tall for the almost 200 innocent citizens, almost 200 Israeli children of Israel who are now orphaned, for the 240 innocent citizens of Israel still held in captivity by Hamas, for the kidnapped babies, and the Holocaust survivors abducted and hidden somewhere in Gaza.”
Feldshuh cited the rabbinic statement that losing one Jew is like losing a whole world.
“As we stand shoulder to shoulder, we transform thousands of our yahrzeit candles into one supernova of light and hope illuminating the memories of those we have lost and shedding light on the murderers who brought them to their death,” she said. “We stand here firm against global antisemitism. We stand firm in confrontation with antisemitism here in these United States. We stand here to say, ‘Enough.’”
The actress told the attendees that “we are now engaged in a battle reaching beyond any Arab-Israeli conflict. We are engaged in a battle fighting for a civilized world. We stand here knowing that the halls of our universities should be havens of enlightenment and moral clarity, and not places where Jewish students, Jewish faculty or any minority feels outcast and afraid of being physically abused.”
She warned college and university presidents that remaining silent would be complicity. She quoted Albert Einstein: “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil but by those who watch them and do nothing.”
Feldshuh cited moments of hope. “Since Oct. 7, amidst the darkness, we’ve seen glimmers of light—world landmarks lit up in blue and white from New York to Miami, from Paris to Prague and Baku—showing our beloved and brave Israel that she does not stand alone.”
When Feldshuh mentioned she had the honor to play Meir, suddenly the Israeli and U.S. flags behind her blew over.
“Wow. I think Golda may be here today,” Feldshuh said, as cheers broke out. “As Prime Minister Golda Meir said, ‘Some people love you, and some people love you and show up.’ You show up and that makes all the difference.”
Organizers told JNS that more than 200,000 people are estimated to be at the march with more than 23,000 tuned in to a livestream.
“Due to the difficulty in accurately assessing crowd estimates for large events, the National Park Service does not make crowd estimates for permitted events,” Mike Litterst, chief of communications and spokesman for the National Mall and Memorial Parks, told JNS. “It is left to the discretion of event organizers to make a determination of their event attendance.”