AMOS & CELIA HEILICHER MINNEAPOLIS JEWISH DAY SCHOOL

Student D'var Torah: Parashat Vayishlach and the Rally for Israel in D.C.

Student D'var Torah: Parashat Vayishlach and the Rally for Israel in D.C.

A group of Heilicher community members traveled together to support Israel in D.C.

My name is Talia S., and I am an eighth grader here at Heilicher. This week's parashah (Torah portion) is Vayishlach, which is about Jacob and Esav reuniting. The night before the meeting, Jacob wrestled with an angel who blessed him and changed his name from Jacob to Israel. That moment in this parashah was really the creation of Israel. Now 3,000 years later we find ourselves in a new struggle. Israel is at war, and there is a rise in antisemitism in our country and across the world.

In response to this new struggle, two weeks ago I went with my mom and my brother to the rally in D.C. to support Israel and also to call for bringing home the hostages and fight against antisemitism. People came from all over the United States to unite and stand for Israel. Some people might think me going to the rally was just a way for me to miss school, but really it was because of school I was able to be present at the rally, and I really appreciated being at the rally.

Over 200 people from Minneapolis got up really really early at 3 a.m. and got on a chartered plane to Washington, D.C. On the plane Rabbi Davis taught about the idea of עליה הרגליים/aliyah hareglayim, showing up with our feet. It would have been easier to get more sleep and go to school like any normal Tuesday (and I did have to miss basketball practice), but this was a chance for me to show up with my feet. Just like Jacob felt like he had to meet with Esav, I felt that I had to show up to support Israel. Sometimes it can feel easier to just let things stay as they are, not rock the boat and stay home. Jacob knew he had to get up and make amends with his brother. And I knew I had to get up and go to D.C.

When I stepped off the Metro, I saw how many people were going to the rally. It was so amazing to see how many people were there, and it made me feel the love that a community shows when they really care. It was the first time I had been in one place with so many Jews in my 13 years on this earth. It was cool to see how many people planned and did so much to make it to D.C for the rally. Some people drove for hours in buses, and some woke up early to get on a plane, but everyone made it a priority to get there.

Even with all those people we wanted to meet up with some friends, but there were so many people there that we stopped looking and hoped to run into them. We eventually ran into some friends; we saw a few of my mom's friends and a few of mine and my brother's camp friends. It was pretty amazing how in all those people we were able to spot people we knew.

It is funny because I have a hard time remembering the specifics of the many speeches and performances, but I will always remember what it felt like to be there. And to be part of עם ישראל/am Yisrael, the people of Israel. I have always taken for granted that being Jewish was just part of my life ever since I was a little kid. But now after the rally, I realize how important it is for me to stand up and be a part of this community. I cannot just take it for granted. Maybe I didn’t have to wrestle with an angel like Jacob, but I did show up in my own way.

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