By Dikla Tuchman, Jewish Sound Correspondent
Over two dozen local Jewish community groups, including synagogues and political action organizations, came together on Sunday, July 27 at Congregation Beth Shalom in North Seattle to participate in a community gathering for Israel. Speakers included Dr. Andy David, Consulate General of Israel, who came up from San Francisco, as well as U.S. representative Derek Kilmer (WA-6), Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle director Keith Dvorchik, and a number of rabbis and community leaders.
The “community gathering for Israel” was the second for Seattle. A solidarity rally organized by StandWithUs Northwest and co-sponsored by Seattle’s Orthodox synagogues, as well as Hadassah and the American Jewish Committee, was held the prior Sunday, July 20, in Pioneer Square. This event, termed a gathering rather than a rally, emphasized solidarity with Israel, plus a mourning of the loss of “all human life” and prayers “for a lasting and sustainable end to the conflict.”
The July 27 gathering was sponsored by A Wider Bridge, AIPAC, the American Jewish Committee, the Ante-Defamation League, Bet Chaverim, Kline Galland, Congregation Beth Shalom, Congregation Kol Ami, Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation, Hillel at the University of Washington, J Street, The Jewish Day School of Metropolitan Seattle, Jewish Family Service, the Jewish Federation, the Kavana Cooperative, Livnot Chai, the National Council of Jewish Women, New Israel Fund, the Seattle Jewish Community School, StandWithUs Northwest, the Stroum Jewish Community Center, Temple Beth Am, Temple Beth Or, Temple B’nai Torah, Temple De Hirsch Sinai, and the Seattle Tribe motorcycle club.
The bulk of the program was Consulate General David’s address on the grave situation facing Israel and the rest of the world currently, with an emphasis on the need for the U.S. and the international community’s support for Israel’s defensive strikes.
Congressman Kilmer’s words carried the gravity of not only Congress’s support for Israel and concern for the tremendous severity of the situation, but his own personal connection to the State of Israel through his 104-year-old grandmother who is one of the few remaining Holocaust survivors here in Seattle. Rabbis and local officials alike stood and expressed their deep concern and sadness for the loss of life and the continued terror that Israeli citizens and soldiers are dealing with on a daily basis.
The gathering included spirited songs and prayers imbued with hope for better days to come in the region, and closed with Israeli national anthem “Hatikvah.” A modest, silent protest was staged across the street along 35th Avenue, with a visible police presence scattered around the synagogue’s perimeter.