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Monday, September 15, 2014

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Rally gave me plenty to think about

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Rally at Beth Emeth Synagogue [Ben Katan Photography]

There were many excellent speakers at the Nov. 19 “Rally for Israel” at Beth Emeth Bais Yehuda Congregation. Each left me with a great deal to think about.

For example, author/columnist/broadcaster Theo Caldwell suggested that we try to respond to difficult situations with “patience, forbearance and the truth.”

Speaking on behalf of the government of Canada, James Moore, the minister of Canadian heritage and languages, told the large gathering that “we gather here in solidarity… with one voice to let our friends in Israel know that without hesitation we do all stand for them.”

Rabbi Howard Morrison, Beth Emeth’s spiritual leader, used the story of Jacob and Esau to help us understand the need for the world to stand up against violence.

But it was my conversation with one of the women who attended the event that brought home the importance of our having been at the shul that night.

After the rally, I sat down with Dina Prager. Formerly of Israel, she still has family living there. She shared her thoughts and feelings with me.

“Israel has been dealing with this for years,” Dina told me. The current fighting, she believed, is “once and for all” to end the conflict with terrorists and Hamas. She mentioned that she had recently spoken with her family in Israel and that, thankfully, they were fine, though some had to move from their kibbutz to safety.

Dina said she was “proud to live here” and that “Canada was really showing Israelis that they are not alone.”

In fact, that was a message all the speakers made sure everyone at the rally heard, as well as the people connected to the event via satellite in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

For a very long time, Dina said, Israelis have felt that no one was on their side, that no country “has their back.” But seeing the Canadian government stand strongly with Israel against Hamas was very empowering, she said.

“Being surrounded by people young and old, Israelis and non-Israelis, Jews and non-Jews, made me feel that Israel is really not alone,” Dina said.

The most moving part of the evening for Dina was when she saw the video of IDF soldiers in Israel assuring us not to be worried, that they had everything under control.

She said it reminded her of the time her daughter had served in the IDF. The message brought tears to her eyes, she said.

When I asked her if she had anything she wanted to say to the IDF soldiers who flew in from Israel especially for the rally, Dina said “I wanted to give them a hug and a kiss.”

We ended our conversation with Dina telling me that “it felt like we were were all one tonight.”

I understood what she meant. It was a good feeling.

Taylor Isen is a student at Thornlea Secondary School. She is in a journalism co-op program at The CJN.

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