By Ann Robbins-Udel
A grassroots gathering of thousands of Miamians of many faiths and backgrounds, who have a love for Israel, merged on Thursday evening, July 31, to demonstrate their support for the State of Israel, in its battle against Hamas terrorists. The community solidarity rally, dubbed “Miami Unites For Israel”, was hosted by the Michael-Ann Russell Jewish Community Center, of North Miami Beach. The event drew more than 3,400 people.
Florida Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera addressed the audience with statements supportive of the Florida-Israel connection, “Israel is a very special partner with the state of Florida. One of the largest populations of Jewish people outside of Israel lives right here in Florida. We have a significant amount of trade and travel that take place every year between Florida and Israel.”
“We are calling on local residents of all faiths and backgrounds to join us, stand together and make their voices heard in support of Israel and its right to defend its citizens from the continuing barrage of Hamas rockets,” said Jacob Solomon, President and CEO of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation.
“We also raise our voices against the forces of hatred that have committed heinous acts of outrageous anti-Semitism in recent days in our own community and worldwide. The Jewish community is blessed to have many friends of all faiths who lend support in times such as these and we call on all decent people to decry the ugliness that motivates hateful behavior.”
Rally speakers included Florida Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera;The Honorable Chaim Shacham, Consul General of Israel to Florida and Puerto Rico; the Honorable Carlos Gimenez, Miami-Dade County Mayor; Rabbi Sholom Lipskar, The Shul of Bal Harbour; Pastor Carlos Ortiz, National Hispanic Coordinator of Christians United for Israel, (CUFI); Amir Hayun, Israeli-American Council; Israeli Defense Forces, (IDF) soldiers, Samuel Falic and Izzy Ezagui; local clergy and others.
A group of 9 girls of middle school age, from various schools, read Psalm121, providing moments of charm and introspection to a program addressing the issues of a most serious crisis. Pastor Carlos Ortiz vociferously announced, “Israel’s right to defend itself is undeniable! Israel is not alone.”
Many participants wore blue and white, the colors of the Israeli flag, to demonstrate their personal feelings of solidarity with Israel and Israelis. A host of children’s educational activities included face painting and the opportunity to write letters of support to IDF soldiers and elected officials.
Sponsors included The Greater Miami Jewish Federation, its Jewish Community Relations Council and the Rabbinical Association of Greater Miami, in partnership with the Israeli-American Council, area synagogues, and other Jewish organizations and agencies.
To make a donation to the Israel Emergency Fund, please call 305.576.4000 and contact the office of Amy N. Dean, Federation General Campaign Chairperson.