Naomi Limor Sedek
In 1987, when I was 12 years old, I hopped on a bus that was arranged by the local Federation that left from the JCC to march in Washington on Freedom Sunday for the Soviet Jews. That was 36 years ago and made such a vivid impression on me and shaped my life as a committed Jew. Then, I marched with more than 250,000 Jews from around the country united together as a people for religious freedom for our Jewish family, many of whom eventually settled in the U.S. and made it their home.
On Tuesday, Nov. 14, the descendants of those Jews from the FSU were free to march with us on Washington, together with my own children and almost 300,000 other Jews. We were calling for freedom once again. Freedom for the 240 hostages held in Gaza by Hamas for more than a month, freedom from the rise of antisemitism on college campuses and around the world, and freedom for Israel to defend her borders and root out Hamas.
But that was not all we were marching for – as my children, one a senior at the University of Maryland and the other a second year law student at American University – shared with me on the Metro ride in….we hadn’t ever had the experience of achdus, unity, here in America that we always felt in Israel, before riding the Metro to the March.
I am proud that they chose to stand with their friends on the mall that day. I am proud that we stood up as one nation and they felt the protection and garnered strength from our gathering. This is a moment they will take with them and share from generation to generation. We stood together to support our college students, stand proud as Jews, and use our voices and our feet in support of Israel and worldwide Jewry.
As Hillel says, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I? And if not now, when?” Never Again is Now! When is Now!
Naomi Limor Sedek is president & CEO of Tidewater Jewish Foundation.