Some 300,000 Jewish people and those who stand against the barbaric murder of innocent civilians, descended on our nation’s capital on Nov. 14. Although on the long bus ride from Long Island I braced myself for any possibility … what I discovered was as surprising as it was banal.
Having grown up in the USSR, I never liked Jewish people, because to me til the age of 10 it meant every antisemitic trope you can imagine hurled in my direction. My parents, who were raised by the Soviet regime were themselves atheists, and tried to assimilate as best they could into a system that stamped JEW on their passport and were on the receiving end of that unfortunate circumstance. So, they could offer no support or counter argument to my Jewish question, of what does it mean being that exactly?
When we immigrated to the U.S. in 1979 my parents made a valiant effort to introduce my younger brother and I to the faith that was summarily painted over with communism and secularism, and a fantasy eutopia that never was. But although I attended services, listened to rebbes, tried not to eat pork, and went through the motions, I never really felt like I belonged to this mysterious and exclusive group.
Standing among that huge crowd at the National Mall in Washington D.C., I noticed that there was no violence, no one yelled or attacked anyone, either verbally or physically. Everyone was cordial, helpful, and polite. Young men were inviting me to pray with them on numerous occasions, ladies offered free Shabbat candles to my beautiful partners pictured by my side. People were singing and chanting the chant of hope “Bring Them Home” and everyone smiled at each other as if we were there for a family reunion initiated through Ancestry.com.
There were many police officers, some in tactical gear and with automatic weapons, strategically positioned throughout the city. When one officer keeping the peace was asked about his experience with this protest, he said that he received more thanks and appreciation on this day than he did in his entire career.
All the speakers, even the moms, and family of the murdered and abducted, spoke about love and gratitude. Pastor John Hagee beautifully affirmed his commitment to the land of Israel and its people as many in the crowd waved “Christians stand with Israel” signs. On numerous occasions, my heart was touched, and I felt a pride and camaraderie that I can only compare to witnessing my children grow up and become the amazing human beings they are.
And I know it can be confusing for some people, when savages enter a peaceful village, and then proceed to systematically carry out the kind of dark age barbarity we in the civilized world have forgotten possible. And then after a moment of shocked silence the Jewish nation responds to eradicate the group that purported to want normalized relations, while at the same time investing all their time and treasure bringing to life their dream of the annihilation of their sworn enemy from the river to the sea.
Then, hiding behind their own citizens and their children as they crawl through underground tunnels, coming out just long enough to launch more rockets at their democratic and peaceful neighbors.
It seems that the world is purposely unsure who are the righteous allies and who is the axis of evil in this particular scenario. But you know what they say; one can’t taste the truth when they’re choking on a lie.
I was honored to be a part of this historic event and felt, perhaps like never before, that I belonged to this ancient people.
The one thing that stands out, among many, is a man in a suit and kippah bending down and spontaneously picking up litter nearby. Made me think that these misunderstood people are the natural stewards of this world, and wherever they go it’s their innate desire to try and make it better.
Am Yisrael Chai!
Lubarsky lives in Woodmere.