Local Israelis Answer the Call by Banding Together To Make a Difference for Israel

Volunteers from the Tsav 8 organization holding an event outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. Courtesy of Yossi Appleboum.

A local group of Jewish volunteers in the DMV region are making an impact in their communities and raising awareness about the situation in Israel by planning daily, pro-Israel events meant to boost public opinion.

The group is called Tsav 8, named after the emergency call-up order given to Israelis during times of urgent need that summon them back to reserve service for their country, something that many Israeli citizens have been given since Oct. 7.

Yossi Appleboum, an Israeli who has been living in Rockville for almost a decade and one of the group’s co-founders, said that he and several other people he knew were searching for ways to help Israel from abroad after the Oct. 7 attacks.

“Two weeks into that thing [the post-Oct. 7 conflict], I did my best to figure out how I can assist the fight of Israel from here or in public opinion and be able to help,” Appleboum said.

He added that he reached out to some Jewish organizations but didn’t get the response he was looking for, and he and his Israeli friends who live in the area discussed the situation and decided that they needed to do something.

The initial group started out as just Israelis, but with interest growing and the word spreading, the group grew rapidly, and Americans began joining their efforts as well.
“We started by reaching out to people we know. Twenty-four hours later, we were 50 people. Twenty-four hours afterwards, we were 100 people. Now we have 615 people. Not just Israelis anymore – a month into the activity, we decided to open the group for Americans as well,” Appleboum said.

Appleboum said that now the group is approximately a 50/50 split between Israelis and Americans, which he added is “unbelievable” given stereotypes that Israeli and American Jews typically don’t get along well, something this group proved wrong.

Appleboum said that the group also includes a few non-Jews who wanted to join their cause, and he said he was grateful for the added support regardless of a person’s background.

The group has activities every single day, Monday through Friday, to support Israel, with people making time whenever possible as they work around their jobs and other responsibilities.

“We do it from Monday to Friday, every morning. [We do it through] snow, rain, everything, except on holidays and except on breaks because then there is no traffic on the freeway. And sometimes there are three people [that participate], sometimes there are 120 people,” Appleboum said.

They decide what activities they should pursue that will have the greatest impact and be possible for people to do using a WhatsApp group with over 400 people, according to Appleboum.

So far, over the course of several months, the group has had motorcades driving through Washington, D.C., a protest at the Qatari Embassy for the hostages, waving Israeli flags over the Montrose Road Bridge in Rockville and going to congressional hearings to get their voices heard.

“[When we went to the congressional hearing] there was an immediate influence on the congressmen and congresswomen. They said they see the pleasure coming from the community, which was great,” Appleboum said.

That ability to easily and frequently show up and have an impact on elected officials in Washington, D.C., is part of the reason that Appleboum said the group’s work is important and meaningful.

The Tsav 8 DMV website adds that the DMV is a “strategic location on the global level, and our emergency calling to support Israel is making an impact on the local and international level.”

Appleboum said that this was a way to still have an impact on helping his native country from abroad. That’s a sentiment that appears to make up a large part of the group’s spirit and drive.

While the group’s Israeli members may not be able to go personally and fight for their native country, they can fight for it by putting pro-Israel voices out into the public sphere in the United States, Israel’s greatest ally.

The group says that its work is also important in fighting misinformation that’s spreading about Israel, Hamas and its actions during the war, and combating the rising antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment that’s becoming more widespread across local communities.

And their work and outreach are growing constantly, with the group becoming partners with multiple Jewish organizations as a de facto hub for planning and organizing numerous activities in the area.

“We are working closely with so many organizations that it’s funny to feel that we became kind of a junction for every Israeli activity in the region, from supporting IAC [Israeli American Council] in their things and working with the JCC, and working with the hostages and the families of the hostages that are both here and in Israel in order to support them, and it’s almost like a full-time job,” Appleboum said.

Currently, they’re considering ways to aid the Israeli Embassy workers in Washington, D.C., who have faced constant harassment and local college students, and they were instrumental in putting together an exhibit on the National Mall to simulate the experiences of the hostages.

And while the group’s work is far from complete as the situation continues to change both at home and abroad, the group will have to continue to adapt as they look to fulfill their own Tsav 8 mission.

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