“We Are Not Alright:” Hundreds of Students Join Rally in Support of Israel
Standing among hundreds of Yeshiva University students and over ten thousand New Yorkers Tuesday, Avygayl Zucker (SCW '24), president of Beren Campus’s student government, was in awe of New York’s support for Israel.
“Standing in line, even before I entered through security, I watched the masses of people of all different demographics, Jews religious and non-affiliated alike, swarming up Second Avenue,” Zucker shared. “The sheer turnout of people, going to publicly stand up for Israel, took my breath away.”
Zucker was among hundreds — estimates were at 500-700 or more — of YU students and roshei yeshiva who traveled to Dag Hammarskjold Plaza in Midtown to join the 12,000-person strong rally, organized by the UJA Federation of New York and Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), on the day classes resumed following the Sukkot break.
The student effort to attend the rally was organized by the student councils, the Sacks-Herenstein Center for Values and Leadership and the Office of Student Life (OSL).
On Wilf Campus, students and roshei yeshiva, including Rabbis Hershel Schachter, Yosef Blau, Mayer Twersky and Yosef Kalinsky, filled buses, subways and Ubers, heading downtown in the hundreds. Students on Beren campus, located closer to the rally, walked in large groups, many draped in Israeli flags and wearing blue face paint.
“Being in America and New York, feeling so far, there’s only so many things I can do to show my support,” said Ozzie Jesolsohn (SBBB ‘25). “Going to this big rally was the least I could do to show my support for Israel and its soldiers.”
The square was filled to capacity, with crowds spilling onto Second Ave and 47th St. Among the featured guests were New York politicians and dignitaries, including New York City Mayor Eric Adams, New York Governor Kathy Hochul and New York Attorney General Letitia James, who all spoke, condemning Hamas’s atrocities and standing with Israel.
“We are not alright,” Adams told the crowd, quoting Lisa Zornberg, New York City Hall chief counsel, from a briefing he received earlier in the day. “We are not alright when we see young girls pulled from their home and dragged through the streets. We are not alright when we see grandmothers being pulled away from their homes and children shot in front of their families.”
“This was intentional.” Adams told the crowd. “This was bitter. This was nasty. This is something that shows Hamas must be disbanded and destroyed.”
“This was an attempted genocide, and therefore, we come together in sheer horror over what happened in Israel,” said James, who also called for Hamas’s destruction and said she stood with Israel.
“We will defeat evil right here in New York … New York stands with Israel!” Hochul told the crowd, who reacted with cheers.
Other speakers included Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations; Tsach Saar, Israel’s acting general counsel in New York; people who spoke about the victims, and the parents of Long Island-native Omer Neutra, who is missing in Israel.
Cosponsors for the event included the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) of New York and New Jersey, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) of New York, the American Zionist Movement, the Association of Reform Zionists of America, Council of Jewish Émigré Community Organizations (COJECO), Strength through Unity, Israel American Council (IAC), the New York Board of Rabbis, the Orthodox Union, the Union for Reform Judaism and United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.
Rav Schachter, who publicly encouraged students to attend the rally, later went on stage and sang “Oseh Shalom Bimromav” together with leaders and representatives from other organizations that cosponsored the event.
Many students who attended the rally told The Commentator that attending the rally and declaring their support for Israel was meaningful, and they felt it made a difference.
“Many of us Jews in the diaspora are desperate to contribute to Israel in any way we can,” said Tehilla Bitton (SCW ‘24). “This rally allowed us to unite in our anger and hope, as we demanded support for Israel. Tens and thousands of us stood together, our home in our hearts. We send them our prayers, donations, tears and support.”
Some students didn’t go to the rally. Approximately a dozen students headed to Columbia University with Rabbi Itamar Rosensweig instead to show support for the campus’s Jewish community, which was facing pro-Hamas counter-protests during a vigil students ran for the victims.
Hundreds of YU students attended a similar rally in Midtown on Monday, one of hundreds of such rallies held throughout the tri-state area, the United States, and across the world in support of Israel.
Photo Caption: Hundreds of students joined over ten thousand New Yorkers in Midtown Tuesday to support Israel.
Photo Credit: Yael Sabo