More than 200 thousand people on Tuesday joined The March for Israel in Washington D.C. at the National Mall. The event which was coordinated by the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, was was organized to “March for Israel; March to free hostages; March against antisemitism,” as written on the event’s webpage. Representation from The Israel Ministry of Tourism (IMOT) was among those in attendance.
Antisemitism and hate crimes against the Jewish communities have continued to rise in the U.S. and around the world since the October 7th attack on Israel by Hamas, which killed over 1400 Israelis and 240 others taken as hostages. However, despite the challenges, Israelis, Jewish communities, Christian organizations, and supporters have come together over the last five weeks to show support for Israel and the diaspora and the continued call for the release of the over 240 hostages who were taken in the attack.
The Washington D.C. March is one of many ways people are showing their support for Israel, with a recent spike in voluntourism over the last five weeks. Last week, Christian farmers from Utah and Montana arrived in Israel to help harvest crops on farms not only near the Gaza border but also throughout the country, as thousands of Israelis were called up to the reserves and many international farm workers left the country in the wake of the attacks, according to Christian Headlines.
Taglit Birthright is offering two-week volunteer trips for food rescue and packing and delivering goods to IDF bases. The trip includes airport transfers, health insurance, and accommodation in Tel Aviv with safe rooms. Christian organization Fellowship of Israel Related Ministries is now accepting applications for its Hope & Healing trip in the first week of December, which will include a variety of service opportunities, such as packaging and serving hot meals to families in bomb shelters, packing groceries for the wives and children of soldiers currently serving in the IDF and hosting and caring for displaced families.
Local Israeli businesses like Citrus & Salt, a cooking class company that has paused their classes to provide 500 daily meals to soldiers and displaced families, and Adopt-A-Safta (which translates to “grandmother” in Hebrew), a local organization, is accepting volunteers from around the world to bring Shabbat meals and necessities to the elderly population of Tel Aviv, many of whom are Holocaust survivors.
“Support for Israel is taking many forms, and support that incorporates travel is a very effective way of doing so,” says Tourism Commissioner to North America for Israel, Eyal Carlin. “We are moved and encouraged by in-person travel initiatives that establish support for the people and the state of Israel as their focal point, and in turn – we encourage exploring the options of joining or supporting such initiatives,” Carlin said.