By Sharon Wisch-Ray
From start to finish, the sentiment in the packed room was am Yisrael chai, as more than 1,300 people gathered at the Aaron Family JCC’s Zale Auditorium last week to show their support for Israel.
The evening was co-sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, the Rabbinical Association of Greater Dallas and countless other constituent community organizations. It was one of many similar pro-Israel meetings and rallies held across the country last week in the wake of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead.
JCRC Chair Alan Greenspan opened the evening. He lauded Israel for protecting its citizens from Hamas rockets. “The only reason more of them [Israeli children] are not dead is that Israel has built bomb shelters and an early warning system.” Greenspan pointed out a key difference between the way Israel and Hamas treat their people. “Hamas uses its humans as shields for its soldiers. Israel uses soldiers as shields for its humans.”
In addition to Greenspan, Rabbi Ari Perl, Rabbinic Association chair; Rabbi Howard Wolk, JFS Jewish community chaplain; Rabbi William Gershon, Congregation Shearith Israel; and Rabbi David Stern, Temple Emanu-El, shared their insights into the conflict. Cantor Itzhak Zhrebker of Shearith Israel and Cantor Don Alan Croll of Temple Shalom led the musical parts of the program.
Rabbi William Gershon animatedly drove home the point of the essence of the current crisis in Gaza. “Israel is fighting for its right to exist … our right to live on our land … for all children in every generation…. This is a fight for the existence of the Jewish people. We will live on our land, and we will not capitulate to those who want to destroy us.”
Earlier in the evening, John Sharp, former state of Texas comptroller, discussed the importance of Israel and the United States being strong allies. “This country has no better ally on the planet than the state of Israel. The fact that this nation gave Gaza back…. That they waited 10 years…. Any rational person in the world should be standing by the state of Israel.”
More than just Jewish people turned out in support of Israel’s operation in Gaza. “I am a Catholic, from Spain,” said Florentina Roman, who was in attendance with her husband. “I grew up in Morocco, and heard about tonight from my son. I told him we have to support Israel.”