I have prayed in many places around the world: Standing in the depths of Auschwitz, at the Kotel with my children, overlooking the Grand Canyon with my family, and in our stunning Ziegler Sanctuary.
This past week, I knew I would have a prayerful experience. 300,000 of us “prayed with our feet” at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. for the March for Israel.
As I made my way towards the start of the march in the early morning, I passed the White House, a symbol of this great country, America.
From afar, I heard noise coming from the front gates on Pennsylvania Avenue, and I feared that the anti-protests had already started.
What I witnessed was something I could not believe.
It was Rosh Chodesh Kislev, the start of the new month where we welcome the holiday of Chanukah, the festival of lights, at the time when the days are short.
As I walked closer to the White House, I heard music and saw people dancing in the streets. “Hood Ladonai Ki Tov Ki L’olam Chasdo!” “Give thanks to God for God is good.”
I joined the White House minyan, with hundreds of other Jews from around the country.
On Tuesday, we heard beautiful passionate speeches from politicians, faith leaders, high school and college students, and friends who had the courage to stand up for Israel and against antisemitism.
And on Tuesday, I recognized the great miracle of Chanukah–a rededication to the freedom we Jews have here in the United States and the freedom we are fighting for to live as Jews anywhere around the world, including in the State of Israel.
As a member of our Sinai Temple delegation told me while we marched, “Rabbi, I’m not doing this for myself. I’m doing this for my children.”
Thousands of years ago, the Maccabees fought for their religious freedom so that we could visit Jerusalem today and tell their story. Why wouldn’t we do the same for those who will come after us?