Federal, state and local representatives join with the Jewish community for Israel
ALBANY – Amidst song, speakers and prayers for the Israeli defense forces, hostages taken in Israel by Hamas and murder victims, the area’s Jewish community came together on Tuesday, Oct. 9 at Albany’s Congregation Beth Emeth to show its support for Israel. Countless more attended by live stream video. The rally was also attended by Governor Kathy Hochul, Congressman Paul Tonko and other Albany County and local representatives, such as City of Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, Assemblymember Patricia Fahy, and Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple.
“Tonight is about proving that hatred will never win. Tonight is about proving that terrorism will never win. Tonight is about proving that fear will never win,” said Beth Emeth Senior Rabbi Greg Weitzman.
Jeffrey Handelman, the President and Chairman of the Board of the Jewish Federation of Northeast New York began by noting the presence of personnel from the Albany County Sheriff’s Department, the FBI, the State police and the City of Albany City police department.
Speaking to the synagogue’s packed sanctuary, Hochul assured the Jewish community that her “number one priority is the safety of all New Yorkers” and that she had activated the State Police and intelligence centers to monitor messages being shared on social media. “We will let the terrorists know they will find no comfort here,” she said.
“We stand with Israel,” she stated unequivocally. She also told the crowd that today the Israeli flag flew over “my house” – the governor’s mansion in Albany and that beginning Wednesday the Israeli flag will fly over the State’s capital as a show that “we are with Israel.”
Hochul was followed by several other speakers, including Tonko who told the crowd, “We stand before you as a friend of the Jewish community and “a voice in Washington.” He assured them that “we will make sure every opportunity is made available to join against Hamas.” “Man’s inhumanity to man overwhelms us with grief,” he said.
Tomko also advised that a “strong” bi-partisan resolution is before the House that “will call out the actions of Hamas and make sure there will be sanctions” and “resources provided.” He said he hopes the bi-partisan resolution will move through quickly. He added that the resolution was an “acknowledgement that such hate, such darkness is not allowed to continue” and, like Hochul, concluded, “We all stand for Israel.”
Union College Professor of History Stephen Berk told the audience never to forget what they have seen, what they have heard, what they have read, as he recounted the slaughter of innocent men, women and children and the taking of hostages. “Let us be clear, Hamas is a genocidal organization” he said and noted it has been from its founding in 1988. “We are dealing with an enemy with no moral bottom,” but he predicted that “Israel will win.”
At the event’s conclusion, the area’s rabbis and cantors led the room in the singing of the Hatikvah, a song of hope and the Israeli national anthem.