On Monday night, October 9, 2023, more than 1,400 community members from all backgrounds, faiths, and walks of life gathered at the Soloway JCC to stand in solidarity with Israel.
The community was addressed by the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada who said, “Canada unequivocally and in the strongest possible terms, condemns these attacks perpetrated by Hamas. We stand with Israel and reaffirm our support for Israel’s right to defend herself in accordance with international law. The glorification of death, violence, and terror have no place anywhere including, and especially, here in Canada. So let me be VERY clear, Hamas terrorists aren’t a resistance, they aren’t ‘freedom fighters’, they are terrorists and no one in Canada should be supporting them, much less celebrating them.”
The social hall and café area were packed, so people lined the stairs, then the lobby, and then hundreds stood in the gym watching the event on Livestream. The turnout was so overwhelming that we regrettably had to turn some people away at the door, a testament to the passion of our community.
The community heard supportive words and a consistent reaffirmation of the allegiance between Israel and Canada. His Excellency, Israel’s Ambassador to Canada, Ambassador-Designate Iddo Moed thanked the Prime Minister for his statements and then spoke his own words to our community, “Our enemies don’t know it but, [attacking Israel] doesn’t work. We pay a price, but we endure because Am Yisrael Chai.”
He added: “We are at a turning point in the history of Israel, things will be different now. Having experienced this horrific slaughter, this pogrom, this barbaric act of terrorism, will change things for us in Israel and for Jewish communities around the world. This is not just a local problem, it’s a problem that we face in the region and beyond. The strong support of Canada and throughout Canadian society is so heartwarming and gives us strength to continue the struggle and to build a future that will benefit both our countries.”
The community was honoured to have so many top government leaders attend the event. The Leader of the Official Opposition, Pierre Poilievre had this to say, “It is with heartbreak that I join you here today. So let me begin my remarks and be explicitly clear that Hamas is a sadistic, demonic, genocidal, terrorist death cult. Canada must stand with Israelis as they carry out their right and obligation to defend themselves.”
He continued, “The Jewish people are the only people who live as the same people, on the same land, worshiping the same faith, in the same language as 3,000 years ago.”
Equally meaningful was the address by His Worship Mayor Mark Sutcliffe: “I am heartbroken to have to be here tonight, but I’m also so very proud to see so many people here tonight, who are here to show their support for Israel and for Ottawa’s Jewish community. Thank you for being here this evening.”
Mayor Sutcliffe painted a powerful picture to make it personal for everyone in attendance, “Imagine what would happen if this had happened in Ottawa. Imagine, if on a holiday weekend, there was a missile attack on our city, striking buildings and residences and killing hundreds of people. Imagine that terrorists arrived in our city and began shooting residents and taking hostages.”
He concluded, “When there is an attack on Israel it is felt profoundly here in Ottawa. When Israel mourns, Ottawa mourns. On behalf of the people of Ottawa, I stand with the people of the Jewish community. I offer to you, my deepest sympathies, I join with you in condemning these attacks, and I stand in solidarity with you as Israel defends itself. We must ensure that the people of Israel are safe from terrorism, and we must ensure that the people of Ottawa are safe from antisemitism.”
The building was filled with heartfelt prayers and unwavering support for our homeland. It was a truly inspiring and uplifting experience to witness the immense dedication of our community. Community clergy offered prayers for Israel, for the Israeli Defense Force, and Psalms for spiritual support. Thank you to Rabbi Daniel Mikelberg, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Blum, Rabbi Idan Scher, and Cantor Jason Green for speaking to our souls.
The Jewish community also thanks the many MPs, MPPs, city councillors, school trustees, leaders from other communities including Ukraine, and numerous media outlets for understanding the importance of support at this time and that our needs are growing and changing every day.
The gathering was a powerful reminder of the strength and resilience of our community. That strength was felt across North America at the over 115 gatherings that have taken place.
A video of the event may be viewed here.
See a full photo gallery here.
Am Yisrael Chai