By: Sruli Friedman  | 

Over 1000 YU Students and Faculty Members Attend Assembly in Solidarity with Israel

Approximately 1200 Yeshiva University students and faculty members attended an assembly in Lamport Auditorium Tuesday in solidarity with Israel during the current Gaza crisis, with more watching online. 

Entitled “Stronger Together — YU Stands with Israel in Crisis” and coordinated by the Sacks-Herenstein Center for Values and Leadership, the Counseling Center, Wilf and Beren campus student governments and the Office of Student Life, the event included messages from YU faculty, political leaders and IDF veterans and soldiers.

For security reasons, backpacks were not allowed into Lamport during the event; attendees were also required to be current YU ID card holders to attend, although the program was also live streamed for a broader audience. The lines to enter the building stretched up 186th St., and Lamport was standing room only. The balcony on the second floor was full as well. 

The program was hosted by Erica Brown, director of the Sacks-Herenstein Center and vice provost for values and leadership, and had opening remarks by Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Hershel Schachter, who spoke about the theological background of the Jewish connection to the Land of Israel.

YU President Ari Berman also shared his thoughts on the conflict, talking about his own son who was called up for reserve duty in the IDF, and describing the obligation of the broader Jewish community to support Israel in wake of Hamas’ Simchat Torah attacks on Israeli civilians and villages.

“We also have a role to shine a light of moral clarity,” Berman said. “That this is a fight not just for the Jewish people, this is a fight not just for Israel. This is a fight for anyone with a moral conscience. Hamas is ISIS. The depravity, the brutality, the inhumanity. Killing babies, mutilating bodies, taking elderly as hostage. This isn’t about Israel and Palestinians, the Palestinians themselves are victims of the cruel rule of Hamas. This is about isolating Hamas and telling the story of evil that must be eradicated … Under the glaring light of truth, evil cannot stand!”

Tsach Saar, Israel’s acting consul general in New York, also spoke, detailing the “unparalleled” scale of Saturday’s attacks, and warning about Israel’s determination to win the war.

“From civilians to soldiers, from young to the elderly, the horrors committed were beyond words,” Saar stated. “... These atrocious actions were not just against Israel, but also against America, against the free world, against all humanity. Hamas … will face the consequences. Our response is driven not by revenge, but by a deep seated commitment to ensure that such terror never occurs again.”

Other speakers included Washington Heights’ City Council Representative Carmen De La Rosa, and Aya Keefe, Manhattan deputy borough president, both of whom expressed strong support for Israel and the Jewish community. New York Senator and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer also sent a written message explaining his regrets for being unable to attend in person and his feelings of “resolute solidarity” with the State of Israel and his commitment to do “everything in his power” to deliver military aid to Israel in Congress. 

A special focus of the event was also highlighting and thanking YU students and faculty who served in the IDF or who were called up for reserve duty.

Didi Levy, assistant director of the Yeshiva University Counseling Center and an IDF veteran gave a presentation about ways for students to protect their mental health. Two current students who had served in the IDF, Mendy Kanofsky (SSSB ‘25) and Kfir Slonimsky (SSSB '25), recited the prayers for the State of Israel and IDF.

Gabi Sackett, YU’s Israel program director, and soldier Yair Jablinowitz, both of whom were called up for service, sent video messages to the event, thanking the attendees for their solidarity with Israel.

“We thank you for your support,” Sackett told the crowd. “Am Yisrael Chai. We will get through this!”

Besides speeches, the program also included students singing songs such as Acheinu, Am Yisrael Chai and Ani Maamin.  The program closed with Hatikva and Maariv.

Students said they found the event and the outpouring of attendance inspiring.

“Everything from the evening was such a meaningful show of support for our brothers and sisters in Israel," Mikey Fishkin (YC '25) told The Commentator. "The powerful singing of hundreds of YU students gave me goosebumps, and still rings in my ears.”

Following the event, pamphlets were distributed by the Sacks-Herenstein and Counseling Centers, giving advice on mental health and sharing more ways students could get involved in helping Israeli soldiers and citizens, through public support and donations.


Photo Caption: Approximately 1200 students and faculty members attend an assembly in support of Israel in Lamport Auditorium Tuesday.

Photo Credit: Yeshiva University