Thousands of Students Join Nearly 300,000 Americans in Washington
Over 2,200 Yeshiva University staff and undergraduate, graduate and high school students joined nearly 300,000 Americans for a rally in support of Israel in Washington, D.C. Tuesday.
Following an early morning Rosh Chodesh shacharit, students boarded 43 buses from the Beren and Wilf campuses and YU’s high school campuses, disembarking at the outskirts of Washington to take the metro to join hundreds of thousands at the National Mall.
Attended by an estimated 290,000 people, the rally was the largest pro-Israel event in U.S. history, with Americans of different faiths joining from across the country. Attendees, many of them waving Israeli flags and bearing signs with pictures of Israeli hostages, voiced their support for the Jewish state, calling for the release of the hostages and an end to antisemitism.
The rally took place on the National Mall from 12-4 p.m. and featured numerous speakers, including leading Democrats and Republicans, university leaders, actors, diplomats and the families of hostages.
“Eighty years ago, Jews came out of Auschwitz and vowed ‘Never Again,’” said Israeli President Isaac Herzog. “As the blue and white flag was hoisted over our ancient homeland, we vowed ‘Never Again.’ Forty days ago, a terrorist army invaded the sovereign State of Israel and butchered hundreds upon hundreds of Israelis in the largest massacre since the Holocaust. Let us cry out, together: Never Again. Never Again is now.”
“History shows that when antisemitism rears its ugly head, if it’s not dealt with forcefully and directly, it grows into a deadly force,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who led the crowd in chants of “USA” and “Never Again.” “But my friends, history reminds us also of one thing: that even in its darkest days, the United States has always stood with Israel and we will do everything to see that that never ever changes!”
“Hamas brutally attacked Israel on Oct. 7 because Hamas wants to wipe Israel off the face of the earth,” said House Minority Leader Congressman Hakeem Jeffries. “So let me be clear. We will never let that happen! Congress will continue to support in a bipartisan way the State of Israel and Israel’s unequivocal right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state always and forever.”
“It is my hope that this gathering today serves as a reminder to the entire world — but also those within our own borders — that the United States stands proudly with Israel and the Jewish people forever,” said House Speaker Mike Johnson.
Other speakers included Sens. Joni Ernst and Jacky Rosen; Reps. Kathy Manning, Chris Smith and Ritchie Torres; refusenik and former Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, U.S. Antisemitism Envoy Deborah Lipstadt, Israeli Ambassador Michael Herzog and Dillard University President Rochelle Ford. Ford mentioned that she and YU President Ari Berman have been planning to build a partnership between YU and Dillard’s National Center for Black-Jewish Relations for several months.
The Maccabeats, Ishay Ribo, Omar Adam and Matisyahu also sang multiple songs, including “The Star Spangled Banner” and “Hatikvah.”
Of the 2,200 students and staff that attended the rally, 1,452 — or 67% of YU’s undergraduate student population — went on YU’s buses. Approximately 600 came from YU’s high schools and 92 from the Graduate Program in Advanced Talmud/Tanach Studies (GPATS) and Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS). They were joined by 75 undergraduate rebbeim, staff and faculty, as well as 40 students and staff from other graduate schools.
The logistical effort on YU’s side began days earlier, with supplies being stockpiled in Weissberg Commons days prior to leaving, Director of the Office of Student Life (OSL) Jonathan Schwab told The Commentator. Supplies were organized, gathered into boxes purchased specifically for the trip, and delivered to Beren Campus by UHaul.
On the day of the rally, housekeeping and facilities arrived at 4 a.m. to pack buses and get things prepared, with each bus being packed with enough supplies to ensure it would have what it needed in case it couldn’t join the same location as the rest of the buses. Housekeeping and facilities remained on site until midnight, hours after buses returned, to help unload buses and unpack.
“This was a massive effort not just in planning what was needed, but ordering, dividing, packing and loading all of the buses,” said Schwab. “It was several full days of work just to get all the supplies delivered to Weissberg Commons.
“I cannot overstate that this is the largest-scale complex undertaking I’ve ever seen us do, and in an incredibly short amount of time,” said Schwab.
Altogether, YU ordered and distributed 2,500 sweatshirts, 6,600 water bottles, 1,980 catered dinners and 363 boxes of snacks and other materials for the buses.
Many students told The Commentator that they found the rally to be meaningful.
“Can we think for a second how surreal Tuesday's rally was?” said Yael Tangir (SCW ‘25). “I couldn't stop thinking on my way back home how this idea of what started as a simple pro-Israel march became the biggest gathering of Jewish people in U.S. history, all of them advocating peacefully for a single objective — the well-being of humanity. What a nation!”
“It was nice to be reminded that with all the bad, the horror, and the darkness the Jewish people can come together during hardship and shine a light onto the world,” said Isabelle Adler (SCW ‘25).
“It can sometimes feel like the IDF is fighting a war and I'm in America and I have errands to run,” said Shmuel Barg (YC ‘26). “That is not the case. We are all a part of this. We are all under attack and we all have the privilege and responsibility to help. We rally, we pray, we do acts of kindness, we study Torah, because we are one united family. If my left arm is cut, my right does whatever it can to help. That is my job. That is our job.”
Photo Caption: Nearly 300,000 Americans joined the “United for Israel” rally in Washington Tuesday in the largest Pro-Israel rally in U.S. History
Photo Credit: Elishama Marmon / The Commentator