April 14, 2024
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Riverdale Rallies to Support Pro-Israel Rep. Ritchie Torres

More than 1,000 people gather in Seton Park, Riverdale, to support their congressman, Ritchie Torres (NY-15). (Credit: Judy Berger)

On October 24, over 1,000 people gathered at Seton Park in Riverdale to show their support for Bronx Democratic Congressman Ritchie Torres, who has been outspoken on his support for Israel and the Jewish community. He has recently been excoriated by some for this advocacy, and for his criticism of those who have refused to condemn Hamas terrorism, including the Democratic Socialists of America, “Squad” Reps. Cori Bush and Rashida Tlaib (who called for an end to U.S. aid to the Jewish State), and educational institutions including Northwestern University.

Addressing a crowd chanting “Ritchie,” New York State Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz opened the rally. “There were some elected officials, including a few of my colleagues in the Assembly, who refuse to condemn Hamas, who will make excuses for them, who blame Israel for what they did. Congressman Ritchie Torres has stood up for Israel and has stood against antisemitism.

“We have got to stand up, stand tall, and stand together in support of Israel, especially now and more than ever, we have to demand the release of the hostages now and we have to stand with our Congressman Ritchie Torres as he fights for us, fights for Israel and fights against antisemitism,” he continued.

Chabad of Riverdale Rabbi Levy Shemtov watches as NYS Assembly member Jeffrey Dinowitz displays a photo of a kidnapped Israeli child at the rally supporting Torres. (Credit: Robert Kalfus)

“I can think of no better representative … than Torres, who has the moral clarity to see that which is right, to not be silenced, to speak up and to speak out.”

SAR High School students Ananya Silverman and Alex Wolf presented to the crowd. Silverman stated: “One constant in this broken world has been the unwavering support from Congressman Ritchie Torres. We are gathered here today in a peaceful counter-protest to those calling Congressman Torres ‘Wanted for Genocide’ for his support of Israel. Despite death threats and aggressive opposition, Congressman Torres has stood in steadfast support of Israel and the Jewish people. It is crucial to stand up to terrorists, to speak out against evil—and Congressman Torres has not stayed quiet.”

Wolf added: “Congressman Torres, we feel your support. We feel your passion for Israel. We feel the impact of your support ensuring that we are safe and comforted as Jewish-Americans. Congressman Torres’s support of Israel is the opposite of genocide. He stands up to terrorism and reveals the moral clarity that we need in this moment.”

SAR High School students Ananya Silverman and
Alex Wolf. (Credit: Judy Berger)

Silverman continued: “Despite the waves of hate, following the outbreak of the war, Congressman Torres has maintained his pro-Israel beliefs and is continuing to stand with us in our time of need.
[He] has been a staunch supporter of Israel and the Jewish people even before the terror attacks on Simchat Torah. … This past week, he went out of his way to come speak to the students at SAR Academy and SAR High School to reiterate his loyalty to the Jewish people and the state of Israel. Ritchie Torres is fighting for us, so we must fight for him.”

Wolf noted: “Congressman Torres spoke of the importance of responding to terror and not giving in to fear. We must not back down against terror. We must stand up in America for democratic values and we must stand with the State of Israel. Ritchie Torres is standing with the Jewish community and against terrorism.”

Pictured, from left: NYC Council member Eric Dinowitz; NYS Assembly member Jeffrey Dinowitz; Chabad of Riverdale Rabbi Levi Shemtov; SAR High School Principal Tully Harcsztack; and Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson. (Credit: Robert Kalfus)

Rabbi Tully Harcsztark, founding principal of SAR High School said: “Congressman Torres, you inspire us with your shared commitment to the principles of democracy, your belief in the dignity of every human being. Congressman Torres, you give us confidence through your unwavering belief that the Jewish state and the Jewish people have a right to defend themselves against those committed to their annihilation. We are deeply grateful for your support, for your integrity, for your sense of decency, for your friendship, and for your courage.”

Rabbi Barry Dov Katz of CSAIR added: “It’s been very hard to see people who spoke up like Ritchie Torres attacked in horrific ways for standing with those victims. The ways that he has been attacked in the last few weeks have been horrible. And he’s being attacked because he is standing for the right thing, standing for the Jewish people and standing on this side of decency.”

Assembly member Jeffrey Dinowitz displays photo of kidnapped Israeli child, with Chabad of Riverdale Rabbi Levi Shemtov, as Rabbanit Bracha Jaffe leads singing of Israel’s national anthem; NYC Councilman Eric Dinowitz at right. (Credit: Robert Kalfus)

Responding remotely from his mission to Israel, Rabbi Binyamin Krauss, SAR Academy principal expressed: “Part of the battle for the Jewish State right now is the challenge of finding strong voices of integrity and moral clarity. … Ritchie Torres, has been courageous and unfailing in his calling out of hypocrisy, even among his peers, and standing with Israel, always, and especially now.”

The rally ended with the saying of Tehillim and the singing of “Acheinu.”

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