Espaillat at Solidarity Event on Wilf Campus: ‘I am with Israel’
Hundreds of Yeshiva University students and Washington Heights community members attended a solidarity event with Rep. Adriano Espaillat at the Shenk Shul on Wilf Campus Tuesday.
The event, organized by Shenk Shul and YU, allowed Espaillat to show his support for Israel and the Washington Heights Jewish community and gave his constituents the opportunity to thank him for his work. Approximately 400 people attended, including Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine.
“We need to come together as a community to ensure that we show solidarity not only for Israel but for the entire Jewish community around the world that is going through a very difficult time right now,” Espaillat told The Commentator. “So that’s why I’m here today, one little grain of hope to make sure that hope spreads throughout the entire world.”
The idea for the event was first suggested shortly before an anti-Israel rally occurred outside of Espaillat’s district office Monday, with planning beginning Monday night, less than 24 hours before the event.
“You know how there was a protest outside his office yesterday?” said Levine, referencing Monday’s protest. “He’s taking heat from the haters. So now tonight he feels the love.”
“Folks said, ‘Why didn’t you have a counter-demonstration?’” said Espaillat. “And I said ‘No. We’re not about pitting people against each other. Let them have their day. We will have ours. And ours will be filled with friendship and love.’”
Speaking about the connection between the Jewish community of Washington Heights and the neighborhood, Espaillat told attendees, who filled up the synagogue, that just as YU and the Washington Heights community didn’t abandon the neighborhood during the crack epidemic of the ‘90s, he wasn’t going to abandon the Jewish community and would continue to stand with Israel, even in the face of attacks.
“I am with YU, I am with the Jewish community and I am with the State of Israel,” said Espaillat, earning one of the dozens of rounds of applause of the evening.
“There are hard times ahead, but we will get through them, and we will win this fight, and Hamas will be defeated,” Espaillat added.
Other speakers included Dean of Undergraduate Torah Studies (UTS) Rabbi Yosef Kalinsky, who has served on the Washinton Heights community board and has a years-long relationship with Levine, and Lior Morgenshtern (SSSB ‘25), a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen who served in the IDF and spoke about friends and neighbors who were captured and killed by Hamas. The Star Spangled Banner, Hatikvah and Acheinu were sung by Cantor Eric Freeman, associate director of the Belz School of Music.
“Tonight was extremely important,” Levine told The Commentator. “We have been rightly calling out the haters over the last three and a half weeks, and we are going to continue to do that. We have not been doing enough to lift up our friends and people who have been solid behind the Jewish community and Israel and have taken hits on the other side.
“Adriano is exactly that kind of leader. I’m so happy we came together to celebrate him. He needed this and we needed this, and personally, I feel incredibly uplifted, so to the YU community, thank you for lifting me up.”
Ubers for Beren students were sponsored by Beren Campus Student Government once spots on the inter-campus shuttle filled up.
The Shenk Shul, located on Wilf Campus, rents YU’s Schottenstein Center and is independent although affiliated with YU. Coordination between Espaillat and Levine’s office was handled by Jon Greenfield, YU’s assistant vice president for government relations.
“As our grief over the terror attacks breeds resolve, we will need to call on friends and allies to maintain support for Israel during its most difficult hour,” Greenfield told The Commentator. “In this we have no greater friend than Congressmember Espaillat.
“The Congressmember is a dear friend to Yeshiva University and a staunch ally of Israel. We were proud to bring our community together and stand with him as he continues to stand up for Israel in the House of Representatives.”
Photo Caption: Congressman Espaillat receiving a round of applause prior to speaking
Photo Credit: Elishama Marmon / The Commentator