COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – President Joe Biden made an historic trip to Israel Wednesday. He has been supportive of Israel and the Jewish people since the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas, a militant group.
The Jewish community around the globe has been following closely as the conflict unfolds in the Middle East. In central Ohio, JewishColumbus has launched a fundraiser campaign to directly support the victims and families of the terrorist attacks.
Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Joanne Strasser said Wednesday, “It means a lot to us to have Biden go to Israel and express his unwavering support for the state of Israel and defending herself against terrorists. I think the president has been very clear about his support for Israel, as has Secretary Blinken, and it makes us feel reassured as a community.”
Rabbi Rick Kellner with Congregation Beth Tikvah in Columbus provided a statement on the current situation in Israel and the President’s visit. It said:
“President Biden continues to show incredible support for Israel with word and deed. His promise to not allow history to repeat itself and stand by Israel and the Jewish community in the aftermath of the barbaric terrorist attack and the biggest pogrom against the Jews since the Holocaust, shows he understands that ‘Never Again is Now!’ His willingness to speak the truth regarding the blast at the Al-Ahli hospital, stemming from a failed rocket shot by the Islamic Jihad terror group, underscores his understanding of how propaganda can lead to more hate and terror. President Biden’s empathy towards Israeli victims and hostages along with his negotiating of humanitarian aid is a reflective of the compassion within his heart.”Statement from Rabbi Rick Kellner
The attacks and ongoing conflict have had a profound impact on the Jewish community in Ohio. Strasser said it’s hard to explain the feeling that many Jewish people have right now.
“What happened on Oct. 7 was the largest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust, so it, it has us all pretty shaken,” she said.
“We all have to admit that it’s a scary time,” Strasser continued. “It’s very hard because we feel a little helpless. It feels like it’s our family over there, and so to be here, it’s a strange feeling. And the world still goes on here in the United States, but we feel an incongruence because we’re carrying around this personal tragedy with us all the time.”
Strasser said one of the things they are doing as a community is uniting as a people.
“Hoping that this conflict comes to an end, and the hostages are returned, and we can go back to some semblance of normalcy,” she said. “Although, I think that’s going to be very difficult since a crisis of this magnitude has not happened for generations.”
“People are scared but, you know, and we urge people to exercise caution as they normally would and we want to make sure people are still going out, and living Jewishly and experiencing joy, and doing the things that make our community so vibrant even when this is going on,” Strasser explained.
President Biden is expected to address the nation from the Oval Office Thursday night. He is expected to touch on the Israel and Hamas conflict as well as the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.