Kitchener-Waterloo’s own Walk for Israel drew a huge crowd—and no protesters

Walk for Israel Kitchener 2024
An estimated 500 people participated in the Walk for Israel on June 23, 2024, in Kitchener, the largest turnout of the event in recent memory. (Photo by Steve Shulman)

An estimated 500 people turned out on Sunday, June 23, to march through the streets of Kitchener, Ont., carrying Israeli flags and raising funds to help victims of the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel and subsequent war. The number might not sound like a lot, but to organizer Jeff Budd—whose family has sponsored this Walk for Israel for generations, and who expected maybe 150 people might turn up—it was astounding.

The turnout was especially noteworthy against a backdrop of rampant antisemitism and anti-Zionism that’s washed across the country. The region has been no exception: Kitchener’s Beth Jacob synagogue was vandalized last month, and the University of Waterloo has been struggling with a vibrant pro-Palestinian encampment for the past six weeks. But the unexpected show of solidarity, including neighbours applauding from their porches, galvanized the city’s small Jewish community of 2,400 people.

Budd joins The CJN Daily with Rabbi Moshe Goldman of Chabad of Waterloo to explain how the walk came together and why they’re feeling optimistic about Jewish allyship in Canada .

What we talked about:

  • Learn more about the recent Walk for Israel held in Kitchener and see their donation page
  • Read about a white supremacist convicted of hate threats against a Kitchener rabbi and lawyer, in 2018, in The CJN
  • Hear Ellin on The Globe and Mail’s The Decibel podcast, speaking about how Canadian Jews have been impacted by antisemitism since Oct. 7

Credits:

The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Zachary Kauffman is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine.  We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To subscribe to this podcast, please watch this video. Donate to The CJN and receive a charitable tax receipt by clicking here. Hear why The CJN is important to me.