There was not a seat to be had in the Mandell Jewish Community Center’s Gilman Theater in West Hartford on Monday evening, Nov. 19 – so some were left standing in the aisles, while others watched the proceedings from just outside the theater, where the doors had been left open for their benefit. In all, an estimated crowd of 450 people — most from the greater Hartford area, but some from as far as Western Massachusetts – answered the call to “Stand Up For Israel” issued by the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford and the Mandell JCC.
In addition to members and leaders of the Jewish community, the hastily organized show of support for Israel — and the IDF’s Pillar of Defense operation, intended to put an end to the incessant rocket attacks launched into Israel from Gaza – was attended by several dignitaries, several of whom spoke, including U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, Congressman John Larson and Archbishop LeRoy Bailey, Jr., senior pastor of The First Cathedral church in Bloomfield (pictured here). Cantor Sandy Cohn of The Emanuel Synagogue led those gathered in the national anthem and Hatikvah, and Rabbi Michael Pincus of Congregation Beth Israel in West Hartford, who is head of the Greater Hartford Rabbinic Association, offered an opening prayer for Israel’s soldiers.
In addition, Dr. Sidney Ulreich, a resident of West Hartford, who had just the day before returned with his wife, Phyllis, from a trip to Israel where he visited with visiting his daughter and her family, offered a chilling account of what it was like to scramble to get to the safety of a shelter when the sirens began to blare.
Perhaps the most moving presentation came at the close of the program when four Israeli Young Emissaries – two who are posted to the West Hartford community and two posted to the Western Massachusetts community – led the crowd in a Hebrew song about the hope of peace.
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