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The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

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Aliza Bellas
Israeli performer Ishay Ribo performs for thousands during teen pre-rally.

On Nov. 14, over 290,000 Jews and allies gathered on the National Mall to voice support for Israel during its ongoing conflict with Hamas, demand the immediate return of hostages from Gaza and denounce rising antisemitism across the globe. Amidst a sea of Israeli flags and passionate cheers, attendees united in their call for peace and justice for Israel, emphasizing the need for international support to condemn Hamas’ terrorism.

Among other Jewish day schools in the U.S., CESJDS was very eager to get students involved in the rally, and canceled their school days to allow them the opportunity to attend. High School Principal Lisa Vardi said that during this unique moment in time, it is paramount that teens speak up and make a mark on Jewish history.

“This is a historic event that young Jews will remember throughout their whole lifetime,” Vardi said. “…It’s a march for Israel, it’s a march against antisemitism and it’s a march to show your pride and identity in who you are. It’s really a rallying point for our community to show what is truly important to us.”

The rally, which featured Jewish influencers and activists from all over the world, consisted of many speeches and musical performances. During the student targeted pre-rally, there were a variety of guests, ranging from alumna Talia Shelef (‘23), Israeli performer Ishay Ribo, Representative Ritchie Torres and many others.

Different groups were eager to participate and get involved to show their support for Israel. One of these youth groups, BBYO, brought a delegation of teens from across North America. BBYO’s International Youth President Courtney Saxe and other regional board members spoke at the rally to showcase youth leadership for Israel. 

BBYO’s Chief Executive Officer Matt Grossman shared his excitement about the organization’s leadership in the rally and their passion to support Israel through teen-led initiatives.

“I hope teens feel optimistic about the future,” Grossman said. “I hope they feel their voice can matter in all of this. I hope they feel like they’re not alone.”

Junior Aviva Stern was very grateful to JDS for enabling students to attend the rally as it allowed her to feel supported during difficult times. 

“It felt really great to know that there’s a big group of people that support Israel the same way I do,” Stern said. “I saw a lot of Christians holding signs in support of Israel, which just made me feel like I’m not alone.”

In addition to students from JDS, young Jews from around the country flew in to attend the rally. Aliza Katz, who attends Shalhevet High School in California, flew into D.C. for the event. She said it was extremely inspiring to see the large crowd on the National Mall united for the same cause.

“I really feel like I am here actively supporting the people in Israel and making a tangible difference for our community,” Katz said.

Stern explained that the rally left her and many others with a profound sense of support and motivation. She said the event ignited a new hope for her that will continue to motivate her in supporting Israel’s actions throughout the rest of the war.

“The rally was more than just a gathering of Jews,” Stern said. “It was proof to the rest of the world that we are here, we are strong and no one can take our state away from us.”


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About the Contributor
Aliza Bellas
Aliza Bellas, Managing Editor, Copy
Aliza is ecstatic to continue her work on The Lion’s Tale as Managing Editor, Copy in the upcoming year. In her past year as Opinion Editor, Aliza found passion in writing timely articles, editing interesting stories, and designing spreads. Outside of the Pub Hub, Aliza dedicates her time to her role as Junior Class President, the Regional Vice President of Membership in BBYO’s D.C. Council, and her role as Editor-in-Chief of The Melting Pot. Aliza is eager to get started on developing the paper’s writing and ensuring that every web and print article is as polished as can be.  

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