By Dan Horowitz - Approximately 1,500 members of Toronto’s Jewish community, made their way to Toronto’s Beth Tzedec Congregation on July 16 to show their support for the people of Israel at a community rally.
The rally - sponsored by UJA Federation of Greater Toronto and its advocacy partner the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs - was organized to show Jewish Toronto’s support for the people of Israel who have been victimized by over 1,000 rockets and mortars fired at Israel by Hamas since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge.
“The rally helped Canadians understand that Israel has an obligation to protect its citizens from a daily, sometimes hourly barrage of Hamas missiles, launched by an extremist terrorist organization that wants to eradicate Israel, exterminate Jews and place its own citizens in the line of deadly fire,” said Howard English, Senior Vice-President, Greater Toronto Region, the Centre for Jewish and Israel Affairs. “We’re thankful that Canadian political representatives across the spectrum understand Israel’s right to self defense and the unmistakeable reality that when the Hamas rockets stop the hostilities will end.”
The event featured live Skype appearances from Ottawa by Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, John Baird, and Liberal Foreign Affairs critic Marc Garneau, as well with Birthright Israel participants currently in Israel. Rafael Barak, Israel’s ambassador to Canada, addressed rally participants live at Beth Tzedec.
“Unfortunately, this scene is all too familiar, we have an eerie sense of déjà vu,” said the evening’s Master of Ceremonies, community leader Julia Koschitzky, who hosted a similar rally at Beth Tzedec during 2009’s Operation Cast Lead. “We came together then as we have now in a state of anguish, fear and pain because our brothers and sisters in Israel are hurting. We cry out to G-D, to ourselves and to the world.”
"Tonight’s rally demonstrates the passion and commitment Toronto Jewry has for the people of Israel,” said Ted Sokolsky, President & CEO, UJA Federation of Greater Toronto. "This was the third communal gathering of this nature UJA Federation and CIJA have organized in as many weeks and still our community responded with tremendous solidarity. At one point when Rabbi Frydman-Kohl asked for a show of hands from those in the crowd who have either friends or family in Israel today, we saw just how many of us have a personal connection to the land and her people.”