Nearly 1500 Gather in Times Square to Sing, Dance and Show Their Support for Israel
Shlomo Anapolle was there. Were you? There, of course, refers to the annual Times Square Kumsitz coordinated by the Yeshiva University Israel Club. This year's Kumsitz (song rally), on Sunday the first of November, might have been one of the biggest events in YU history. On Facebook alone, more than eleven hundred people said they would be attending the event and it was estimated that fifteen hundred people came over the duration of the Kumsitz. Naturally, this count doesn’t include the dozens of people who joined while they were walking around Times Sqaure.
"The Kumsitz this year was much larger than it had been in the past but we were still able to maintain its traditional fee thanks to Aryeh Tiefenbrunn and the Y-Studs." explained Michael Osborne, former president of the YU Israel Club. "We made a huge Kiddush Hashem and were able to make a statement to the world that we support our state in our indigenous homeland no matter where we may be in the world." Over the course of the next two hours, from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM, the speakers blasted and students sang their hearts out: for their land and for their brothers.
An anonymous source actually spotted Palestinian flags in the vicinity about an hour before the event started. However, neither protests nor demonstrations were seen or reported while the group sang and danced in front of the Red Steps.
Daniel Lazarev, a member of the YU Israel Club, explained why he feels students gather each year for this awe-inspiring event: “Ever since I joined YU’s Israel Club, I saw the Kumsitz as an opportunity to defend Israel through nonpolitical means because – and I think most people on our board would agree with this – the animosity Israel faces is not rooted in politics but is instead only disguised as such.” He continued “We therefore used song and prayer, the Jew’s strongest weapons to display on one of the world’s biggest stages some of the key values upon which our nation is founded: the sanctification and love of life, an undying pursuit of peace, and our hope for national self-determination in our ancestral homeland.”
Daniel opened Sunday night with some beautiful words of Torah, to focus our song and prayer and to shed light on the purpose of the gathering. After that, Aryeh Tiefenbrunn brought his guitar out and, with the Y-Studs (YU’s Acapella group), set the students’ feet into dance and their voices to song. Featuring popular songs such as Mahapecha Shel Simcha, Tov Lehodot Lahashem, and Yesh Tikva, among others, Tiefenbrunn and the Y-Studs performed extremely well.
Shlomo Anapolle led the Mi Sheberach (prayer for blessing) for the soldiers of the IDF and Michael Osborne recited the Mi Sheberach for the state of Israel. Tamar Golubtchik, President of the Israel Club on the Beren campus, shared words of Chizuk (inspiration) with the attendees as well.
Lazarev continued his explanation, “By showing our true colors as a peaceful nation, we hoped to educate those who have been misinformed about our people. But perhaps more importantly, by gathering to sing, dance and pray for our country we were able to foster a sense of confidence, strength and unity in all those who came, and even those who saw the videos and picture afterwards.”
Many people from outside the YU sphere attended this event as well. High school students, students from other colleges and random people walking around Times Square joined the students of Yeshiva as they turned the red stairs blue and white. The New York Police Department joined in the festivities as well, taking pictures and soundly enjoying themselves to the tunes and song.
It seemed whether you were observant or not, Jewish or not, Israeli or not, there was place for you. Even a few Sikhs, followers of a monotheistic Indian religion that promotes peace, love and acceptance, joined in the dancing. "The energy was absolutely electric,” described Laurel Aaronson, a sophomore at Stern, “The Ruach was pulsing through every person in that square, whether they were involved in the dancing and singing, or just witnessing the incredible togetherness of Jews and Israel supporters from all throughout New York City."