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Monday, November 24, 2014

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Ottawa Jews hold third major rally for Israel

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From left, CIJA CEO Shimon Fogel, Israeli Defence Attaché to Canada Col. Adam Susman, Jewish Federation of Ottawa CEO Andrea Freedman, Ambassador Rafael Barak, and federation chair Steven Kimmel

OTTAWA — For the third time in a month, Ottawa’s Jewish community came together last week in solidarity with Israel. 

Following a July 3 gathering of 300 people for a Zachor (Remembrance) ceremony for the three Israeli teens who were kidnapped and killed in the West Bank, more than 700 people attended a community rally at the Soloway Jewish Community Centre (SJCC) on July 16 to show support for Israel and to support one another at such a difficult time.  

As the conflict between Israel and Hamas continued to simmer, the Jewish Federation of Ottawa, in partnership with the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), brought together more than 400 people on Aug. 6 at Ottawa’s Soloway Jewish Community Centre to once again demonstrate support, show unity and seek constructive ways to help.

Israel’s ambassador to Canada, Rafael Barak, addressed the crowd, thanking them for their support throughout Operation Protective Edge. He provided statistics, facts and figures about such things as the numbers of rockets fired into Israel from Gaza, the numbers of casualties on both sides, as well as expressing appreciation for the strong support of the Ottawa Jewish community.

The facts and figures became much more personal as the pictures of three of Israel’s fallen soldiers were projected on a screen and the details of their lives read aloud. An Ottawa family shared a very personal connection to a recently fallen soldier, one for whom there had been hope for a happy ending.  

Following introductory remarks by his daughter, Simone Moscovitz, former CBC journalist Jason Moscovitz, addressed the audience by audio recording. 

Unable to be present because he had left for Israel two days before the rally, he had prepared the message to be played in his absence.

“I am here because I was asked by the community to be here, asked to help bring the war in Israel a little closer and more personal for all of us,” he said.

He told of experiencing a surreal moment when he learned of the two soldiers killed and one thought to have been kidnapped at the end of a brief ceasefire.  The name of the soldier thought to have been kidnapped – and later, tragically, declared dead – was Lt. Hadar Goldin. Goldin was the brother-in-law of Moscovitz’s daughter Emmanuelle.

Following messages from federation chair Steven Kimmel and Shimon Fogel, CEO of CIJA, some suggestions for how community members could help Israel were provided by Andrea Freedman, president and CEO of the federation. 

She urged people to visit Israel; to advocate on behalf of Israel by engaging with local media, by monitoring and correcting media reports; to engage politically by contacting elected officials to make them aware of the Jewish community’s concerns and to thank those who have stood up in Israel’s support; to stay informed about events in Israel; and to donate money to Ottawa’s Israel Crisis Fund.  

At that point, Freedman announced, Ottawa had already raised more than $170,000.

Rabbi Reuven Bulka led the community in prayers for the State of Israel and its people and for peace. 

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