Since Oct. 7 and the meteoric rise of blatant Jew-hatred, every random interaction with strangers seems a bit perilous. I never know if the person inquiring where I got my chai necklace (“chai” is Hebrew for “life”) or, in this case, asking about my father’s accent, will respond with kindness or vitriol when we answer his question.

On a recent Monday afternoon, my husband and I toured Plymouth Rock, Mass., with my youthful octogenarian Israeli father, who was visiting us from out of town. Our dog befriended a little white poodle mix and, sure enough, the owner turned out to be friendly as well. When he heard my father’s strong accent, he asked, “Where are you from?”

As a proud Jewish woman born in Israel, I have nothing but love for my country of birth. It is a place of profound and moving history whose people have such heart and soul. When I visit my extended family (27 first cousins!), I am immersed in love, culture and Judaism. At the same time, I know many Americans believe the propaganda and hateful rhetoric being disseminated by domestic terrorist groups, such as Within Our Lifetime (WOL), who wish to globalize the intifada and repeat the Hamas atrocities of Oct. 7.

I braced myself when Dad proudly said, “I am from Israel.” The man, a white, former Marine in his 60s, extended his hand and said, “It’s an honor to meet you, sir.”

I couldn’t stop the tears from forming, as they do quite easily and frequently since Oct. 7.

The man, who I learned was named Rick, noticed my emotions and said, “Israel is on my bucket list. Since October, I have had a giant Israeli flag on my lawn. I’m Christian and my heart is with the Jewish people.”

When my father asked him whether there had been any fallout from his putting an Israeli flag on his lawn, Rick said he’d received three random hate-filled notes in his mailbox, but he did not take down the flag. “Anyone who hates Israel,” Rick said, “doesn’t know her or her people. One day, I will get to visit them.”

I wish I could personally take Rick on a tour of Israel. I would show him Jerusalem’s Old City and the beauty of her walls at sunset. Nothing is as powerful as “Jerusalem of Gold” (as songwriter Naomi Shemer described the city) on Shabbat. We would walk through the Ben Yehuda market and buy spices and nuts. I would take him to the mythical city of Safat and the Rosh Hanikra grotto. He would see all four seas—the Sea of Galilee (the Kinneret) in the north, the Mediterranean, the Dead Sea and the stunning Red Sea. And I would introduce him to the best chefs in Israel—my aunts.

The night after meeting Rick, I was fortunate to be on a Zoom call with Hadassah national president Carol Ann Schwartz. I asked her, “How do we fight the public relations war against Israel when we are so outnumbered?” Her response echoed my encounter with Rick. She said, “We may be outnumbered, but we are not alone.”

I am so grateful to the numerous friends I have made through Hadassah. They are women like me, who are heartbroken and feel abandoned by some of our non-Jewish, supposedly liberal friends—the same friends we marched hand-in-hand with for women’s rights, Black lives, abortion access and gay rights. These “woke” friends have not only turned against Israel but have been deadly silent during the rise of blatant antisemitism. It seems that, somehow, Jews just do not deserve their advocacy.

The Hadassah women are my tribe and, together, we will shine a bright light on what Israel and the Jewish people truly stand for.

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