Thursday, January 8, 2009

Rallies in Tucson &Phoenix, in Support of Israel, Jan. 4

Tucson and Phoenix were among the first cities in the United States to have large rallies in support of Israel’s right to defend its citizens when under rocket attack.
In Tucson, prayers for peace, lead by community rabbies, were the essence of “Standing with Israel,” a community gathering attended by more than 600 people at Congregation Anshei Israel on Sunday to show solidarity with Israel in its response to daily rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip. Stuart Mellan, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona, and Rabbi Robert Eisen of Congregation Anshei Israel coordinated the event.

About one-third of the attendees were from outside the Tucson Jewish community. Songs of peace were led by Cantor Ivor Lichterman, while audience members wrote their hopes for Israel on index cards, which will be sent to the Conservative Congregation Kehillat Netzach Israel in Ashkelon, which is holding services in bomb shelters. An Ashkelon synagogue representative wrote “We’re looking forward to receiving the prayers. The support we’re getting gives us the strength to keep going.”

Early on December 30, Tucson Federation Board Chair Jennifer Miller Grant and President/CEO Stuart Mellan issued a statement proclaiming the JFSA’s solidarity with Israel.
“We mourn the loss of human life – Israeli and Palestinian – and pray that the violence will soon end and that peace will come to this battered region,” said the statement, which continued: “While the Federation continues to support Israel in its quest to negotiate peace with the Palestinians, no country can be expected to leave its citizens unprotected from continuous and unrelenting violence.”

Despite the rain and with just four days notice, over 1300 people crowded into greater Phoenix Jewish Community campus the afternoon of January 4th in support of Israel with its battle against the terrorist group Hamas.

So many people came that they were spilling over the balconies also.

Speakers included the Israeli Consul for Culture, Media and Pubic Affairs from Los Angeles, Shahar Azani, and Congressman Trent Franks and Mayor Phil Gordon, who spoke of their strong support for Israel in its fight for peace.
Sharron Topper-Amitai, the new community shlicha (emissary) from Israel, spoke of her grandfather who 60 years ago fought in the War of Independence to establish the State of Israel praying that his children and children's children would never have to fight for religious freedom ever again.

Rabbi Arthur Lavinsky of Beth El Congregation and Rabbi David Rebibo of Beth Joseph Congregation each recited prayers for Israel and for resolution of the conflict and ultimate peace in the Middle East and the world. As the large group sang Oseh Shalom and Hatikvah, an ocean of Israeli flags were waved in support. Children also made cards to be sent to Israelis in the areas under attack, and attendees signed letters to members of Congress, asking for their continued support of Israel.
For a video of highlights of the Phoenix rally, please go to:

To see many other communities in the U.S. who have held rallies or who plan to do so, please go to:

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