With Gratitude

This past Tuesday, nearly 300,000 people came together on the National Mall for the March for Israel. I had the honor of serving on the organizing committee for this event – participating in a whirlwind ten days of planning and promotion with no guarantee of success. Days later, I am still deeply moved by the outpouring of support, strength, resilience, and solidarity at what has since been declared the largest pro-Israel gathering in US history.

I was particularly inspired by the powerful, poignant words of the speakers, including Alana Zeitchik, whose family members are being held hostage in Gaza.

“For too many it feels like to care about one family, to love one child is to diminish the suffering of another. But the simple human truth is that you don’t have to choose. You can abhor the suffering of Palestinian families and the suffering of Israeli families like mine. You can call for peace and the immediate return of the innocent men, women, and children who are violently taken from us. It doesn’t need to be political to share in my grief or in the anguish that the Israeli people are feeling.”

Alana’s words captured, for me, why being together in our grief, anguish, abhorrence of suffering, and solidarity felt essential.

Today, we must continue to harness that same power of community – the strength which comes only from collaboration and solidarity – to move forward. I’ve been humbled by your generosity, compassion, and vision to date. Your support remains invaluable for those in Israel and our local community – and, of course, we still have much to do.

We must continue to show up and speak out against antisemitism, urge our congressional representatives to maintain their support for Israel, and demand the release of the 240 hostages. And as we approach the end of 2023, I hope you will continue to support Federation in making this work happen year-round, in times of crisis and calm.

Your past gifts to Federation’s Annual Campaign ensured that we could build and maintain relationships around the world; secure our community in Greater Washington; invest in Jewish education and identity-building experiences; and much more. In this moment, as we stand strong in the face of those who call for our destruction, that support is more crucial than ever before. Please give what you can today.

This Thanksgiving will feel different for many of us, as our hearts and thoughts remain with our friends and families in Israel. For me, it will also be marked by overwhelming gratitude for our community. Each of you has done and continues to do so much for those in need, wherever they may be. I am honored and grateful to belong to this caring and compassionate Jewish community.

I wish you and your loved ones a wonderful, peaceful Thanksgiving.

Gil Preuss
CEO, The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington