JFGD convenes gathering of Israel solidarity
Photo: Screenshot
Sherry and Ken Goldberg moderated a discussion with former Israel Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon at the JFGD virtual rally May 30, 2021.

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

The Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas convened a virtual solidarity rally last Sunday to support Israel and call for eliminating the antisemitism that has risen since the conflict between Israel and Hamas. 

More than 200 people tuned in to hear from A.J. Rosmarin, Federation board chair; Rabbi Howard Wolk, Jewish Family Service community chaplain; Sammy Zoller, a native Dallasite and Lone Soldier in the IDF; and Danny Danon, former Israel ambassador to the United Nations.

“The Jewish Federation in Greater Dallas and our partners are dedicated to supporting Israel and speaking out against antisemitism,” Rosmarin said. “Our mission of caring for Jews in need has never been more profound and timely.” 

Lone Soldier Sammy Zoller shed some light on being a paratrooper on the Northern Gaza border during Operation Guardian of the Walls. 

“Whether it was guarding the various Israeli communities along the border or going on patrols, the bigger picture was always in mind. It was truly an honor to be able to do my part to defend Israel and Eretz Israel. Knowing that everyone could continue going on about their lives was the thing that pushed me and allowed me to stay focused during the weeks on the border.”

Zoller, a 2018 graduate of Akiba Yavneh Academy, attended Yeshivat Orayta on a gap year with the intention of attending University of Michigan. Once he was in Israel, he said he knew he would make it his home and joined his brother Benji making aliyah.

“I simply fell in love with the country and said to myself, There’s no way I’m leaving here. I’m going to live my life in Israel. It was important for me to enlist in the IDF. I always wanted to be a paratrooper and is truly an honor to serve in the 101st battalion of the paratroopers brigade,” he said. 

Sherry and Kenny Goldberg moderated a discussion with Ambassador Danon.

Danon said that after the 11-day onslaught of rockets, Israelis are still struggling to get back to normal. The scurrying back and forth to and from bomb shelters and safe rooms night after night has taken its toll.

Danon added that Israelis also want to help the people of  Gaza. “We have nothing against the people of Gaza; we have a lot against the regime that took over in 2007, the Hamas, a recognized terrorist organization.”

He also said that Israelis are as concerned about the rise in antisemitism in the U.S. and Europe as members of Diaspora Jewry are about Israel and Israelis.

“When we saw the videos of violence in New York City, Los Angeles, London and San Francisco, we were very worried about it. And we know that antisemitism is on the rise, regardless of what’s happening in Israel,” Danon said.

When asked about what people in Dallas can do to help those in Israel, Danon responded about the importance of education, particularly in the younger generation. He said he was shocked by mainstream media questions in recent weeks about the morality of the IDF and the perceived disproportionate response from Israel to the violence by Hamas, calling it “fake news and lies.”

“It’s crucial to invest your efforts in the young generation, getting them knowledgeable and involved. … No one can guarantee that it will happen automatically. So that’s my request to you,” he said. 

Bill Finkelstein, incoming Federation board chair, closed the program.

“As a community, we must, individually and collectively, continue to demonstrate support for Israel’s right to defend herself. Coming together like this is so important, and we must do so even more. So what can we do? To paraphrase the prophet Isaiah, ‘for Zion’s sake, we will not be silent.’”

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