1000 Strong’s Promise to Israel: “We Will Dance Again” 

By: Ruchama Benhamou  |  March 27, 2024

By Ruchama Benhamou, Managing Editor 

On Thursday, March 7, 2024, I was once again immensely honored to attend 1,000 Strong’s second event which was filled with strength, support, and solidarity for the State of Israel in its post-October 7 reality. After the first event, which took place shortly after the outbreak of war, on October 19, I was left speechless as I had never been to such an impactful event for Israel in my life. I thought no event could ever top the humbling feelings of unity and resilience. How utterly shocked I was when this second event exceeded every expectation I had, and ones I never knew I had.

1,000 Strong is not just a sentiment or an organization; It is a living entity, a movement that has the power to effectuate change. Its founders Mordechai Weiss, Mickael Benichou, and Jillian Weisleder-Chera, represent the ability and possibility of young professionals to come together in unwavering support of Israel. What made this event particularly unique was its departure from the traditional model of speeches. Instead, it embraced a captivating twist, presenting a lineup of performers that conveyed its message of resilience and hope through diverse mediums.

The evening commenced with a powerful display of national pride as Jillian Weisleder-Chera delivered a stirring rendition of the U.S. national anthem, followed by Elizabeth Savetsky, who moved the audience with her rendition of the Israeli national anthem, Hatikvah. Their performances set the stage for an evening of unity and solidarity.

Once the atmosphere was charged with patriotic fervor, New York City’s Mayor, Eric Adams, took to the stage. Linked arm in arm with Rabbi Joel Eisdorfer, Mayor Adams spoke of their vivid relationship, emphasizing that he could not have navigated some of his darkest times without the guidance and support of his dear friend. This intimate gesture of solidarity set the tone for the night, highlighting the importance of community and connection in times of adversity.

Following Mayor Adams’ heartfelt address, the night’s special guest, Lee Maschler, Founder of Trillium, was honored for his altruism and philanthropy. His remarkable donation of over 1 million dollars to Israeli causes not only showcases his commitment to humanitarian causes, but also his profound empathy towards our fellow Jews. In recognition of his exceptional leadership as a fierce advocate for Israel and his role as a partner of the formidable 1000 strong, Maschler was bestowed with a truly unique tribute. A hand-painted mural, crafted with exquisite artistry, by Jordana Hanono depicted a majestic lion intertwined with the profound words of the Shema, symbolizing strength, faith, and unity. Adorned with shimmering diamonds, the mural not only showcased the brilliance of light but also reflected Maschler’s enduring commitment to illuminating the path toward a brighter, more unified future.

The stage was graced by the hauntingly beautiful voice of Cantor Netanel Hershtik of the Hamptons Synagogue, who sang in the presence of IDF soldiers who had just returned from reserves. His soulful performance paid tribute to the bravery and sacrifice of those who serve to protect Israel, stirring hearts and minds alike. Itzik Dadya followed suit, delivering performances that were both uplifting and meaningful, prompting the audience to join in slowly and maturely, as they danced once again for Israel.

Ada Pasternak also graced the stage with her violin, performing an original song called “100 Days” in support of the hostages in Gaza, who are still being held captive today. Her soulful rendition stirred and resonated with all in attendance, serving as a poignant reminder of the resilience and strength of the human spirit. Not only the human spirit, but the spirit of Israel and its people that has traversed through the trials of history, demonstrating unwavering resilience and an unyielding commitment to its values and beliefs.

As the night progressed, the mood shifted seamlessly between moments of solemn reflection and joyous celebration. The DJ from the Nova Festival massacre, DJ Shalos, who himself was a victim of the tragedy, took to the stage with an aura of resilience and determination. His presence was a testament to the indomitable spirit of the Israeli people, proving that despite the darkness of the past, we as a nation will forever live on not in fear, but in strength. 

With each beat, DJ Shalos transformed the room, infusing it with an energy that was both electrifying and uplifting. His music served as a rallying cry, inspiring all those present to rise above adversity and embrace the joy of the moment. As his tunes filled the air, the crowd moved as one, swept up in a whirlwind of emotion and camaraderie. 

Through his performance, DJ Shalos reminded us all that even in the face of unimaginable tragedy, there is always hope. His music was a beacon of light in the darkness, bearing witness to the resilience and fortitude of the Jewish nation. As the music pulsed through the walls, so did the hearts of the audience, beat in a symphony of hope and defiance. It became clear: here, now, and forevermore, our steps shall resound with the echoes of resilience, for in this moment, we not only declare that we will dance again, but that our dance, forged in the crucible of history, shall endure as an eternal testament to the unyielding spirit of Israel and its people.

And as the final notes faded into the night, the message felt like a promise. A promise that we will never step down, but instead, we shall dance again stronger and more united than ever before.

Reflecting on this profound message, I am reminded of the incredible journey that has brought us here tonight. The vision and dedication of individuals like Mordechai Weiss and Mickael Benichou, whose passion for philanthropy has reshaped the landscape of giving in New York City, and Jillian Weisleder-Chera, whose unwavering commitment towards collective action has inspired countless others to join the cause.

As Mordechai Weiss and Mickael Benichou eloquently express, “We met each other in the Beit Midrash of Furst Hall while students at Yeshiva University. Today, we are redefining philanthropy in NYC as founders of 1,000 Strong. Since October 7, through our Grammy- worthy events, we have raised and donated $450,000 for the IDF and the victims of October 7, through organizations such as Bulletproof Israel, Kol Hanearim, and Widow of Warriors. This is the power of YU and when the Jewish collective uses their talents for Israel.” And in the words of Jillian Weisleder-Chera, “1,000 Strong is a reminder to the entire young Jewish community that there is nothing stopping you from making a difference. That’s why we do this. All for Israel. Because we have no choice but to help.” Her poignant sentiment encapsulates the essence of 1,000 Strong—a movement fueled by the belief that together, we can overcome any challenge and build a brighter future for Israel and its people.

As I vividly recount my experience of these events, I wish to recognize the amazing founders of this organization Mordechai Weiss, Mickael Benichou, and Jillian Weisleder-Chera, as well as the 1,000 Strong Team in creating a humbling legacy. 

Am Israel Chai!