Close to 3,000 individuals from South Florida gathered to express their support for Israel through chants, prayers, and Hebrew songs at the Holocaust Memorial in Miami Beach. The assembly took place following a devastating assault in Israel that has had global repercussions.
The event was orchestrated by the Greater Miami Jewish Federation and was supported by 36 other local organizations. Participants, both Jewish and non-Jewish, displayed signs such as “We stand with Israel” and “Stop Hamas now.” This comes shortly after the Palestinian militant organization Hamas initiated an unexpected attack on Israel, resulting in the deaths of over 1,200 civilians by Wednesday.
The gathering commenced with a choir of cantors from different synagogues in South Florida performing the American and Israeli national anthems. Ariel Bentata, the board chair of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, spoke about the ongoing struggle for peace, referencing comments made by President Biden earlier in the day. Bentata quoted the President, saying, “This is an act of sheer evil. A violation of every code of human morality.”
Florida politicians, including U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, and Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez, addressed the enthusiastic crowd, who were dressed in blue and white and waving Israeli flags. Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava spoke about the current crisis in Israel, emphasizing that challenging times should strengthen the community. She also discussed her personal family connections to Israel.
Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber expressed his gratitude to law enforcement for ensuring the safety of the attendees. He stated that hosting the rally was a great honor for the city and declared himself a Zionist. Gelber compared the brutality of the Hamas attacks to the Holocaust and asserted Israel’s right to defend itself and exist.
The attack from Gaza has resulted in the deaths of over 1,200 civilians, including 155 soldiers, making it the most lethal attack on Israel in decades. The assault involved various forms of warfare and was carried out by Hamas, which is recognized as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared that Israel is at war.
Many attendees had direct ties to Israel, including Surfside residents Miriam Bimblich and George Minski, who were recently in Israel for their wedding. They expressed their concern for their family and friends in the country. Miami Beach resident Philip Namiech, who moved from France over two decades ago to escape antisemitism, also attended the rally to show his support.
The event remained peaceful, and as it concluded around 8 p.m., Debbie Heber stayed behind with her granddaughter, who was wearing an Israeli flag. Both expressed the need to combat the rising tide of hatred. Aviella Kunis, Heber’s granddaughter and a student at the Hebrew Academy in Miami Beach, mentioned that she has been bullied because of her Jewish identity and was glad to see the outpouring of support for Israel.