BEACHWOOD, Ohio (WJW) – Hundreds of people gathered at the Mandel JCC’s Stonehill Auditorium Saturday for a multi-faith gathering to support the Israeli community, as the war with Hamas continues into week five.
“I had a friend who is not in the Jewish community who reaches out and said: What can I do for you?” Organizer Avi Jacobs said. “I said if you just show support that’s all we need.”
Jacobs said the gathering aims to strengthen solidarity for Israel by sharing the experiences of those directly affected.
“I’m a paramedic in Magen David Adom, which is the Israeli equivalent in of the Red Cross,” Hadas Ehrlich said. “The terror that we saw, and the bodies, it was just pure evil.”
Ehrlich and another colleague are on a tour in the U.S. to share what it was like responding after the terrorist attack, working to save countless lives. But it was something she said they were not prepared for, as she is not a trained combat medic.
They said 11 of their colleagues were killed during the attack.
“Every person that we meet comes with tears in their eyes and say, listen, thank you for what you do, and I don’t feel like a hero,” she said. “I really don’t. But we see how important it is for people and the United States and for the Jewish community to hear firsthand, because you don’t really understand what was going on when you scroll on social media.”
Jacobs said since the attack and subsequent war, there has been a rise in hate crimes and antisemitism in the U.S.
“This is something that is scary for us, and this is something that this is not, unfortunately, an issue that’s restricted to the Middle East,” Jacobs said. “This is a problem that’s affecting us here at home. And this is why events like this are so important.”
The Jewish Federation of Cleveland is sending a convoy of 20 buses to Washington DC on Wednesday for a national March for Israel. Organizers expect upwards of 1,000 Clevelanders to attend.