Jewish students and community members stood united in downtown Kingston.
Approximately 100 people attended the rally, “Kingston for Israel,” to commemorate Israeli civilians who lost their lives in the Middle East. The gathering celebrated the strength of the Jewish community on Oct. 17 in Springer Market Square.
The Queen’s student-run rally follows an Oct. 7 attack launched on Israel by Hamas—an organization designated as a terrorist group by the Canadian government—where 200 Israelis were taken hostage. The attack took place during the Supernova music festival, an event meant to symbolize “unity and love,” according to the festival’s webpage.
Rally attendees gathered in a circle, singing and clapping along to songs that emphasized hope and togetherness while showing support for one another.
Attendees sang “Am Yisrael Chai,” reiterating the Jewish people’s resilience and their dedication to keeping their faith alive. ”Hatikvah,” the Israeli national anthem, was also sung at the rally.
“[The Hatikvah] is saying that Israel will live on. Israel has the right to exist. We love Israel. We pray for Israel,” said Eden Cohen-Kleinstein, student organizer of the rally, in an interview with The Journal.
For Cohen-Kleinstein, taking a step away from the recent news coverage and joining her peers to celebrate the Jewish community is integral to helping her through the challenging times.
For student attendees, being at the rally was a break from their midterm studies, a fact Yos Tarshish, director of Queen’s Hillel, was solemnly appreciative of.
“It isn’t an easy thing in the middle of your schooling, while you are supposed to be studying for midterms, to suddenly feel the weight of a conflict happening thousands of kilometers away falling on your shoulders,” Tarshish said during the rally.
“We’re one people with one heart. When you hurt one of us, we all feel that pain.”
Tarshish pointed out vitriolic hate on social media as contributing to the pain felt by Jewish students at Queen’s. According to Tarshish, some posts call Hamas’s attack in the Middle East an act of resistance against the Israeli government, which he said is harmful to students.
“There are people on our campus, at Queen’s University, who are trying to say that it’s justified. That this is resistance. This isn’t resistance. We should never allow this to be resistance,” Tarshish said.
Cohen-Kleinstein said she’s been in contact with family members living in northern Israel, and they’re staying safe.
“It’s been tough for my family, but we’re getting through it,” Cohen-Kleinstein said.
Standing in a circle, attendees were able to watch the support they had from their community. Some members shared their personal connections to Israel, having lost friends who were in Israel at the time of the attack.
Tarshish shared that Amir Zur died while attempting to save and free Kibbutz Kfar Aza on Oct. 7. Zur was the youngest of four children at 23 years old, and his family fled Nazi Europe.
Keren Katz, ArtSci ’25, shared that Ben Mizrachi, who she attended high school with, was killed at the Supernova musical festival by Hamas.
“Before Ben was killed, he stayed behind to help his friend who had been shot. Instead of running away, he sacrificed his life. He died a hero,” Katz said.
“He should be remembered not for his death but the beautiful life he lived.”
During this difficult period for Jewish students on campus, Cohen-Kleinstein stressed the importance of checking in on Jewish friends.
“You don’t have to give an opinion. Just ask, ‘how are you?’ That could really change the way someone’s day goes,” Cohen-Kleinstein said.
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