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WATCH: Students worldwide sing ‘Global Hatikvah’

Toronto high school spearheads Israel solidarity initiative in response to terror wave

Renee Ghert-Zand is a reporter and feature writer for The Times of Israel.

Illustrative: Global Hatikvah, December 2015. (YouTube screenshot)
Illustrative: Global Hatikvah, December 2015. (YouTube screenshot)

Forty schools and groups worldwide came together last Monday for an event called “Global Hatikvah” in solidarity with Israel.

At precisely 12:30 p.m. EST on December 7, live video feeds from locations in the United States, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Colombia and Israel merged the singing voices of students and teachers with those of the soldiers of two units of the Israel Defense Forces in a unified, simultaneous rendition of the Israeli national anthem.

Frustrated at what they perceived as a lack of news coverage of the wave of terrorism that has plagued Israel since early October, students at TanenbaumCHAT, a Jewish high school in Toronto, conceived the “Global Hatikvah” project.

“There have been too many shootings and stabbings of innocent civilians happening all over Israel. Dozens are dead and more wounded. As students of TanenbaumCHAT, we cannot stand by and do nothing. We must show Israel and the rest of the world that we, as a Jewish unified community, stand with Israel,” said student leader Clara Serruya as she opened an assembly at her school.

“We will continue to show the strength and resilience of Jews. While the media fails to cover these events and the rest of the world remains silent, we must take it upon ourselves to be the voice of the Jews in the Diaspora,” she continued.

A video produced from the live feeds of a sampling of the various participating schools and organizations shows people of all ages, but mainly schoolchildren, some waving Israeli flags, standing at attention as they sing “Hatikva.” Because of the time differences involved, some groups either stayed up through the night or woke up very early to participate.

TanenbaumCHAT head of school Rabbi Lee Buckman made special mention in his remarks — preceding the joint singing — of Ezra Schwartz, the 18-year-old Bostonian on a gap year in Israel who was killed by Palestinian terrorists on November 19, and Rabbi Yaakov Don, who was killed in the same incident.

Don had been a “charismatic and beloved shaliah [teacher emissary]” at the Toronto high school 15 years ago, according to Buckman.

TanenbaumCHAT students have historically taken a leading role in their local community when it comes to supporting Israel. In late June 2014, many of them turned out at a Toronto rally in solidarity with Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-ad Shaer and Eyal Yifrach held at the school. At the time, it was believed that the Israeli teens were being held by Hamas abductors. Their bodies were located on June 30, and it became apparent that the young men had been killed almost immediately following their kidnapping by terrorists on the evening of June 12.

“In the face of this violence against our people, the world remains silent. When French citizens are killed by Islamic terrorists, there is an outcry. When 14 residents of San Bernardino, California, are killed and 21 are injured, it is called an intolerable act of terrorism. But when Israelis are attacked by Islamic terrorists, there is hardly a whisper,” Buckman said.

“We refuse to join the chorus of the silent and indifferent. When Israel is in trouble, we feel it here. And we will not be silent.”

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