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Heschel Supports Israel Through Protests, Rallies, and Other Initiatives

The Heschel student body has shown support for Israel in its war against Hamas; all around the world, people stand in solidarity with the state of Israel and the Jewish people. 

Over the past few weeks, Heschel has supported Israel in many ways. Students have taken the initiative in and out of school to make their voices heard by attending protests, rallies, and more.

After Sukkot, Rabbi Noam organized a full-school meeting to pray for people who were kidnapped or killed in Israel. Later, the social studies department held faculty-led information sessions on the Israeli Conflict to educate students. The high school also invited former IDF Major General General Padan, a Heschel parent, to give more information about what is happening on the ground. The Weekly Hachana L’Shabbat programs continued to discuss topics regarding the conflict. 

The juniors went to the Consulate to show support for Israel and seniors stood outside the U.N. with other Israeli supporters to welcome Rachel Goldberg, whose son was taken hostage by Hamas, when she came to speak to the General Assembly. The school also encouraged students to attend the “New York Stands with Israel’” rally during the first week of the war. There are other programs and speakers the faculty has planned for upcoming programming slots, as well as Town Halls for students to voice their opinions.

Junior Elena Bakhchi is especially passionate about the situation in Israel and takes it upon herself to show support. Bakhchi said that after spending so much time in Israel this past May with family and school, she “realizes it’s [her] home.” Bakhchi spends a lot of time working with the Moise Safra Center on the Upper East Side. Recently, they packed supplies to send to IDF soldiers and sent cards from New Yorkers to children and families in Israel expressing their support. 

Bakhchi also uses social media to her advantage. She reaches out to Jewish influencers, asking how she and others can help. On her platform, Bakhchi posts and reposts important media regarding the war. 

“I’m trying to explain the situation to people having trouble understanding,” Bakhchi said.

Limudei Qodesh teacher and 12th-grade Dean Rabbi Natan Kapustin explained that the school wants to create safe spaces where students can process the events and educate themselves.
“You have to be selective about which ones you go to and which ones to not go to,” said Rabbi Kapustin. 

When the school was informed about the NYU protest and how life on campus for the Jewish community is getting worse, he knew that this was another important opportunity for the senior class to get involved. He thought about the two Zoom calls the school held with Heschel alumni, most of whom are college students. Rabbi Kapustin says that the faculty “jumped at” the chance to go to NYU and show support, adding that it was significant enough to cancel class to allow seniors to attend. 

He explained that “it’s important to be able to show leadership, to be involved, to get out and do things,” especially with the seniors leaving the “Heschel bubble” next year. 

Rabbi Kapustin said that disrupting our lives to show support is more meaningful than just caring because it prioritizes the cause. 

He wanted to emphasize how important and safe it is to go, that “you can feel like you’ve done something, that it matters.” 

Rabbi Kapustin hopes that by taking students to rallies with the school, they are encouraging students to go on their own time as well. According to Kapustin, the rallies are both for us and those whom we are supporting. 

“Everyone–the parents who spoke at the General Assembly, the alumni, the NYU students–cared that we were there,” Rabbi Kapustin says. 

Although the school’s involvement in protests will not bring hostages home or save lives, “we can impact how we experience the war, how other people are experiencing the war, and support those who are making a difference,” Rabbi Kapustin said. “We can’t do nothing.”

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