I've just come back from a rally, where an estimated 7,000 people, mostly British Jews like me, showed solidarity with our brethren, the people of Israel (I'm on the left in the picture, with my very good friend A. on the right).
Although the speeches were stirring, with the message that we want peace but not at the price of terror, the definite highlight was a live video link with members of a number of Jewish communities whom we saw sitting in a bomb shelter in Shlomi, Northern Israel. We waved at the children and they waved at back at us. At one point, we all sang a song together and for just a few minutes, we too were there in Israel, facing the very same threats and fears from the skies above.
For me, the most important part of being there was showing those kids and their parents that although they felt very much alone, we fellow Jews, 2000 or so miles away were there to support them and give chizuk (strength) to get through this terrible period.
Life for these folk who are spending day after day in bomb shelters, is not in any way easy. There are countless hours of boredom and frustration, and additionally, they also have to also cope with the oppresive heat (many of the shelters don't have air con). Knowing that we helped alleviate their misery, if only for half-an-hour or so, makes me feel extraordinarily proud to be Jewish.
I'm so happy I went. It's a great feeling to be part of such a special nation, especially during challenging times like these.