More than 650 Chicagoans, including Mayor
Rahm Emanuel, showed their support for Israel and the Jewish United Fund’s Israel Emergency Campaign at a fundraiser Thursday night. (View
photos from the event.)
“Chicago Stands with Israel: An
Evening of Solidarity and Support” was held at the Chicago Hilton & Towers
and featured remarks from the mayor, Senators Mark Kirk and Dick Durbin and
former ambassador from Israel to the U.S. Michael Oren.
Emanuel thanked JUF and the crowd and shared his impassioned thoughts
on how the lives of children have been embroiled in the conflict between
Israel and Hamas.Oren spoke to this as
well, and to Hamas’ strategy of delegitimizing Israel through the
“While striving to kill Israeli civilians, Hamas
hides behind Palestinian civilians, hoping Israel will kill them,” Oren said.
“Dead Israelis or dead Palestinians; either way, it’s a victory for Hamas …
Those images [of dead civilians] Hamas knows will translate into diplomatic
pressure on Israel, and to charges of war crimes and worse. Those charges will
lead to the denial of Israel’s right to defend itself, and ultimately to the
denial of the Jewish people’s right to maintain a sovereign state in our
Support also came from the Capitol. Sen. Durbin
recorded a message that was shared with the crowd and Sen. Kirk, in person,
delivered the single message of "what better way to say what we
are 'for' and what we are 'against' than to support our allies in the State of
The program was interrupted several
times by a small but well-organized group of protestors who had registered and
paid in advance in order to gain admission. They were quickly escorted out by
The evening benefited JUF’s Israel Emergency Campaign, which works through JUF’s
overseas partners to provide urgent humanitarian needs and vital services for
Israelis most grievously affected by the approximately 4,000 Hamas rocket
attacks this summer. Including last night’s event, the campaign has raised $8.7
million to date.
“For those Israelis in harm’s way, it is
important to know that world Jewry is standing behind them—that we are
advocating for them in the halls of power and in the media, that we are coming
together on their behalf with public rallies and programs like this one,” said
Bill Silverstein, incoming JUF Chairman of the Board.
Israelis from JUF’s Partnership Together city of Kiryat Gat, which was struck by rocket shrapnel a few weeks ago, shared
their experiences during Operation Protective Edge.
Buhbut, a 25-year-old soldier who served as a commander in the Israel
Defense Forces, had just begun working with JUF’s Kefiada program, an
English-speaking summer camp for Israeli children, when he was called up from
reserves. His unit was responsible for locating and destroying two terror
"I felt it was a bigger duty than before,
because now my soldiers were parents, leaving their children at home," Buhbut
He asked the crowd to imagine themselves in the
situation of trying to locate a tunnel “30 inches wide, a hole inside the
ground 100 feet below." It took five days to find the tunnel and destroy
Avital Mimran-Rosenberg, a 29-year-old mother, was en
route to the U.S. to speak at this event when the “Red Alert” app on her phone
went off during her layover in Rome. Her husband was at work, her 4-year-old
daughter at day camp (which was being held in a bomb shelter) and her
2-year-old son was with her in-laws. “I couldn’t breathe until I got the text
from my husband saying that everything was okay,” she said.
Mimran-Rosenberg said her daughter has a lot of questions about what
the sirens are. The last day before the cease-fire, she asked her, “I know the
siren means go to our safe room, but what’s the explosion that comes after
“What do you say?” she said.
help Israelis recover as this war continues, please donate to JUF’s Israel Emergency Campaign