Berman student’s campaign for Israel draws thousands

Eliana Lebson holds an Israeli flag.Photo by Abbie Salamon
Eliana Lebson holds an Israeli flag.
Photo by Abbie Salamon

A local girl has sparked a global wave of support for Israel in response to the terror sweeping across the Jewish state.

Eliana Lebson, a 10th grader at Berman Hebrew Academy in Rockville, created a private Facebook event page, I Support Israel, on Oct. 15. She invited her friends, asking them to invite their friends. By Oct. 22, more than 5,000 people had clicked to attend and nearly 60,000 people from around the world were invited.

“I was afraid that I was going to get something anti-Semitic on [the page], but it didn’t end up that way and I was surprised to see people all over the world supporting Israel. I think someone might have said they were from Tokyo,” said Lebson, who has visited Israel four times.

The initial invitation called on Israel supporters to wear the Israeli national colors of blue and white on Oct. 19 to show solidarity with Israelis living under threat of Palestinian knife, gun and vehicular attacks. The response to the invitation was so overwhelming that she asked everyone to again wear blue and white on Wednesday.

Lebson has been encouraging supporters to post pictures of themselves wearing blue and white along with the hashtag #ISupportIsraelEverywhere.

The conflict hit home for Lebson when her mother informed her that her grandmother’s friend was stabbed and shot during a recent terror attack in Israel. (On Tuesday, Richard Lakin succumbed to his wounds.) A couple of days before receiving the news, she had received a Facebook event invitation requesting that people wear blue and white to show solidarity with Israel. Feeling a personal connection to the violence in Israel sparked her idea to create the Oct. 19 Facebook event.

As word spread about the project at Berman, students and school administrators wanted to get involved. Many students dressed in blue and white. The entire high school gathered in the gymnasium for a group picture holding a banner that read “am yisrael chai” in Hebrew.

Rene Isser, Hebrew department chair and Israel Action committee adviser, said that because Israel is a “core value” at Berman, Lebson’s Israel initiative has been “incredible” for the school.

The Israel Forever Foundation wrote an article about the project, presenting Lebson with a certificate of recognition for “standing with the Jewish Homeland during this difficult time.” She said the media attention is exciting and that it feels good to get complements from strangers on Facebook. Lebson said she will continue building support for Israel on social media.

Said Lebson: “I hope that even more people support Israel — and will think about what is happening in Israel more and spread the word to more people.”

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