Philadelphia-Area Jews Explain Why It’s Important to Show Up for Israel

Cantor Laura Goodlev. Courtesy of Laura Goodlev

There was a strong Philadelphia-area presence at the Nov. 14 March for Israel rally in Washington, D.C.

Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia sent eight busloads of people to the rally. Several synagogues organized their own trips to the national capital, according to their Facebook posts. Even smaller Jewish organizations, such as the Chabad at Rowan University, got a bus and sent people down.

A few talked to the Jewish Exponent about why it was important to go.

Gili Fleekop, 27, of Upper Dublin
Fleekop is an Upper Dublin native, but she lives in Tel Aviv. She was visiting her family in the United States when Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, and now she can’t get back until December at the earliest.

“I felt helpless when the war broke out because I couldn’t be there to fight,” she said. “I’m showing the world that I am unequivocally supporting Israel; that I will always support Israel; that I will not be afraid to wear the Israeli flag on my back.”

Batame Hertzbach, 77, of Center City
Hertzbach’s parents are Holocaust survivors. She said she doesn’t feel safe as a Jew in her own time anymore either.

“I wanted to show support for the Jewish community and to speak to Congress and let them know we’re here, and that they should support us,” Hertzbach said. “We’re concerned about the war. We’re concerned about the hostages. We’re concerned about the rise in antisemitism, particularly in colleges. These will be our future leaders. That’s terrifying.”

Cantor Lauren Goodlev, 40, of Beth David Reform Congregation in Gladwyne
Goodlev describes herself as a cantor and a mother. She is devoting her life to Jewish posterity. So, she came out to fight for it, she said.

“As a cantor, I believe strongly in the power of our communal voice. My thought was to come down to D.C. to join with my congregants, with other Jews from Philly, with people from all around the country, to show support for Israel, to demand freedom for the hostages and to stand against antisemitism,” Goodlev said. “We can’t let fear overtake us. I need to stand up for who I am and the future for our children.”


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