Brookline, MA – On Sunday over 100 Jews and non-Jewish allies gathered in Coolidge Corner to ritually commemorate the one-year anniversary of Israel’s most recent and most lethal assault on the captive population of Gaza. The gathering took place on Tisha B’Av, a day on which Jews traditionally fast to remember the tragedies endured by their people. This intergenerational and interfaith group observed the holy day by honoring the thousands of people killed during last year’s assault, and calling on Israel to end its ongoing aggression toward Palestinians.
“The attack on Gaza was carried out by an Israeli government that claims to act in the name of all Jewish people,” said community organizer Isaac Hodes as he introduced the memorial service. “The attack was supported by many Jewish institutions that claim to speak in our name, and the attack was enabled by tax dollars, weapons, and diplomatic cover from the United States. But those institutions do not speak for us.”
“Thank you for remembering the Palestinians who were killed as people, not just numbers.” said Dr. Abdelfattah Abusrour, from Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem, Palestine, as he addressed the crowd. Abusrour is general director of Alrowwad Cultural and Theater Society. “Israel uses your suffering to justify its injustices.”
The group shared poems, prayers, songs, and testimonies of Palestinians and Israelis during the assault. After reciting the Mourner’s Kaddish, a Jewish hymn traditionally read at funerals and memorials, the group joined together in song and walked down Harvard Street in a solemn procession. They carried photos of Palestinians who lost their lives due to Israeli violence.
“Coolidge Corner is a hub for the local Jewish community, so I was expecting our procession to meet some resistance from Israel supporters passing by,” said Alice Rothchild, Brookline resident and member of Boston Workmen’s Circle Center for Jewish Culture and Social Justice. “Instead, I saw people coming out of stores and joining us, people watching us and crying, and someone even got out of their car to hug one of us. I was really moved to see some people on the sidewalk singing the traditional Jewish mourning songs with us. ”
“Gaza might be out of the headlines, but the violence continues in the form of siege, blockade, and regular military strikes,” said Lisa Stampnitzky of Jewish Voice for Peace-Boston. “Remembering last year’s attacks isn’t enough – we have to keep working for justice and an end to Israeli oppression.”