April 8, 2024
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Celebration of Israel at 1,000 Strong Event Raises $250K

Attendees at 1,000 Strong. (Credit: Judith Falk)

Founded by innovative young leaders post Oct.7, “1000 Strong” is an initiative whose mission is to raise essential funds for Israel by creating blockbuster events geared towards Jews in their 20s, 30s and 40s. At its most recent March 7 event to celebrate Israel, 1,000 Strong raised more than $250,000.

Heralding that amazing accomplishment was one of the founders of 1,000 strong, Mordechai Weiss, who told the crowd of more than 1,000 people gathered: “We are a bunch of friends in our 20s; 1,000 Strong tonight has raised a quarter of a million dollars!”

1,000 Strong. (Credit: Judith Falk)

The significant funds raised over the past five months by 1,000 Strong has gone toward Israeli causes such as a new bomb shelter in Kibbutz Karmiya, bulletproof vests and ballistic helmets, and aid for widows of fallen soldiers and children affected by Oct. 7.

At the March 7 event, from a visual perspective, it was obvious that Israel was the only thing on anyone’s mind. Digital images of Israeli scenes were projected onto the walls of the event space itself. Many of those gathered, all dressed to the nines, were carrying evening bags or wearing dresses emblazoned with the Israeli flag. Reminiscent of Montana Tucker’s yellow ribbon dress worn to the Grammys, Danielle Yablonka, a social media activist, wore a dress with images of the American and Israeli flags as well as a chayal in a tallit.

Itzik Dadya (Credit: Judith Falk)

Musical highlights included a moving tribute to the Nova survivors by Israeli DJ Shalos. Itzik Dadya performed several patriotic Israeli songs and had the crowd literally jumping up and down singing “Am Yisrael Chai” in unison in a moment which can only be described as electric.

Like many events in a post Oct.7 world, however, the evening was a carefully crafted balance of celebrating the hope that the Jewish people have for a better future yet focusing on the ongoing attack on Israel.

Images of the hostages held captive in Gaza were literally center stage with Ada Pasternak’s moving rendition of her new song “100 Days.” The Nova massacre was recalled by survivor Nehoray Levy, who lost 10 good friends at the festival. “We won’t let us take them down. We won’t let hate destroy us,” stated Levy. “My message to all of you here, don’t forget that our power is in our unity … We are strong when we are united. When we are gathering together for the same cause. That’s our power of the Jewish people.”

The brave chayalim were recognized by Cantor Netanel Hershtik, who performed the tefillah for chayalei Tzahal with soldiers surrounding him. Stated the renowned cantor: “What a big zechut to stand with these heroes on one stage.”

Mayor Eric Adams with 1,000 Strong founders. (Credit: Abbie Sophia Photography via Ariella Noveck)

New York City’s resolve was addressed by Mayor Eric Adams. Stated Adams: “I am standing with you and there’s others that will stand with you. We can never again create an environment where you have to take off your yarmulke to get on the subway station. Where you have to be afraid to say what your beliefs are. That’s not the city we are going to live in.”

The Jewish people’s hope was recognized by social media influencer and Jewish activist Lizzy Savetsky, who led the crowd in “Hatikvah.” The strength of the Jewish people was recognized by honoree Lee Maschler, founder of Trillium, who told the crowd to “Stay united. Stay strong, 1,000 strong for our loved ones in Israel and for our Jewish people. Never again.”

Cantor Netanel Hershtik with soldiers.
(Credit: Judith Falk)

It was evident from the vibe in the room that everyone present was grateful for 1,000 Strong and its purpose. As stated by attendee Ariella Noveck, “the organization serves as more than just a fun night out, it gives people a sense of purpose and pride, a place people can express their passion, excitement and gratitude for those serving on our behalf in the Israeli army, the IDF.”

Judith Falk is the creator of the Upper West Side Shtetl Facebook group. You can follow her on instagram @upperwestsideshtetl. She is an employee of the city of New York and wrote this article in her personal capacity and not as an employee of the city.

DJ Shalos with others. (Credit: Abbie Sophia Photography via Ariella Noveck)

 

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