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Israel Solidarity Rally Brings 1,000 to Wynnewood

At a rally held in solidarity with Israel Monday night, Ardmore resident Amichai Shdemah told the story of his step-grandmother’s abduction from her home in Nir Oz kibbutz by Hamas terrorists.

The woman, whom Shdemah calls “Savta” or grandmother, is 84.

“We know some details. In the morning, she was hiding in the safe room,” Shdemah said. “Later, a neighbor heard her calling for help and went outside. He realized he couldn’t help her. There were too many terrorists, and he fled back to his safe room.”

Family members kept trying to call her cell phone. Eventually, someone answered and said in Arabic, “Hamas.”

“We are helpless and sick with worry,” he said. Officials gave the family no information. “They have checked hospitals,” he said. “And the list of the dead.”

“She was a social worker who worked with many families,” he continued. She has the “gift of an enormous family and remembers everybody’s birthday. She always made us feel part of her family. Her chicken soup is our kids’ favorite.”

Gov. Josh Shapiro

With signs that said “Philly Stands With Israel” and blue and white Israeli flags, around 1,000 people rallied in Wynnewood to support the Jewish state after the horrific Hamas terrorist attack that began on Saturday.

The group prayed, sang, and listened to remarks from politicians, clergy, and Jewish community leaders.

Michael Balaban, president and CEO of the Philadelphia Jewish Federation, organized the rally. He thanked the supporters and donors who’ve aided the beleaguered Jewish state.

“I don’t have sufficient words to describe the horror of the past few days,” said Balaban. “To wake up on Saturday morning, on Shabbat, a day of rest and Smideot Serot, to the news that Israel, our Jewish homeland and our Jewish people, had been attacked with thousands of rockets. And hundreds of terrorists infiltrated from Gaza. The news of Israelis being murdered, taken hostage, thousands wounded.”

“To read news of toddlers being kidnapped by terrorists,” said Balaban. “To know that refresh of social media or the news would bring with it horrific new details. We stand united, but we also stand in pain together,” he said. “We are heartbroken. We cry together. We are grieving. And we are angry.”

“In our own streets of Philadelphia and in Times Square,” he added, “while Jews are being massacred, there are those that cheer for our destruction. We’ve heard them call these terrorists’ freedom fighters,’ but that’s not what they are. They’re murderers who’ve stolen the lives of innocent Jews.”

“We’ve seen this same hatred time and time again. Like a virus, hatred of Jews has survived over time by mutating,” he said.

Gov. Josh Shapiro said, “We stand against terror, and we stand with Israel.”

Many are worried about our friends and family in Israel, which is “now a war zone.”

Others have never been to Israel but “recognize its critical role in the world. You recognize what Israel represents: Freedom. Democracy and peace. Those are values that we as Americans and we as Pennsylvanians hold dear.”

The gathering was near the spot where William Penn arrived 341 years ago, said Shapiro.

Penn had “a vision to build a colony built on the promise of religious tolerance and understanding,” said Shapiro. “Today, three and half centuries later, I am honored to address you tonight, both as the 48th governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and as a proud American Jew.”

“We must condemn the horrific acts of war perpetrated by Hamas and their enablers,” Shapiro said. “Hundreds of Israelis are among the dead and captured. But so are American citizens, as well as British, French, Canadian, Mexican, and so many other nationalities…These unprovoked attacks on innocent civilians warrant condemnation here in America and all across our globe…Let me speak the truth. There is no moral equivalency between Hamas, a foreign terrorist organization as designated by the United States, and Israel,  the only functioning pluralistic democracy in the Middle East.”

Tsach Sa’ar, Acting Consul General of Israel, said, “My homeland is bleeding. My homeland is burning. And my homeland is the closest ally of your homeland in the Middle East and beyond. This same homeland is the spiritual anchor for the Jewish community in America.”

On a joyous day in the Jewish calendar, “Palestinian terrorists from Hamas unleashed unprecedented terror. They killed over 1,000 individuals. Left thousands injured. And abducted more than 100. The victims, Jews and non-Jews, Israelis and Americans, and other foreigners…The atrocities committed are unspeakable. Children were murdered. Women were assaulted and abducted to Gaza. Elderly women at a bus stop were sprayed with bullets. Others were set ablaze.”

“It marks the deadliest day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust,” said Sa’ar.

Gail Norry

“These horrifying actions were not just against Israel. They were acts against America, against the free world and all of humanity.”

Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Philadelphia/Delaware) and about 14 state legislators attended the rally. Representatives from the offices of other area congressional representatives, as well as from Sen. Bob Casey and Sen. John Fetterman, attended.

“I stand with Israel 100 percent,” said Philadelphia resident Gail Norry before the rally. “I’m horrified at what has happened. They took innocent lives. Havoc has been wreaked.

“These were people sleeping in their homes,” said Norry. “Young adults at a concert. They just had their entire lives turned upside down. The nature of the attack, just how horrible it was.” She had just traveled to Israel in May to celebrate Israel’s 75th anniversary.

“It is the only place to be in Philly if you’re a strong supporter of Israel and a proud Jew,” said Joshua Steinerman, a Bala Cynwyd resident who came with his family.

Mastriano to Bucks County: Crime Surge on Shapiro’s Watch ‘Disqualifying’

Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano unloaded both barrels on his Democratic opponent, Attorney General Josh Shapiro, over soaring crime in the Keystone State.

“On his watch as the senior law enforcement official in the state, crime has gone up 40 percent, that alone is disqualifying,” he told some 700 people at the Fuge in Warminster on Saturday afternoon. “He doesn’t want to talk about 1,000 or more carjackings in Philadelphia, a record number of homicides…and he is a complete, utter, and ridiculous failure.”

They can’t keep up  (with digging) the graves with the young people killed in the crossfire, mostly 15, 18-year-old kids,” Mastriano said.

Participants chanted “Doug for Guv.” Mastriano spoke without notes for about 45 minutes, making his case for why voters should elect him governor.

A 30-year Army veteran, he repeated the classic quote, “Old soldiers never die. They just fade away.”

“There’s no time for us to fade away,” he said. “Our country needs every one of us.”

Mastriano said he has offered to debate Shapiro and would allow him to “bring Donna Brazile,” but “he’s chicken.”

Shapiro has turned his back on “mostly women” who are being sex trafficked in the state, Mastriano charged. Instead, Shapiro sued the Little Sisters of the Poor, spending millions in taxpayers’ money to lose in the U.S. Supreme Court, and sued to keep kids in masks and businesses shut down. On his watch, nearly 10,000 criminals were released from jail.

Mastriano promised, “On day one, woke is broke.”

“Parents will have their powers back,” he continued. “There will be full school transparency…all the pornographic books will be pulled out. On day one and done, Critical Race Theory will be thrown out the window. And maybe bring back civics, the constitution, and Pennsylvania history.”

Mastriano said he was being attacked as not supporting women’s rights and called on his wife, Rebbie, to speak.

Sen. Doug Mastriano and his wife, Rebbie. (Courtesy Tom Sofield, editor/publisher Levittown/

She said Republicans support a woman’s right to be born, to have baby formula, to have a say in her child’s education, raise a child in “a safe community where the government enforces the law, prosecutes crime, and doesn’t let criminals out early.”

“And we believe, as Pennsylvanians, that it’s a woman’s right to the Second Amendment,” she added, drawing loud cheers and applause.

“And we believe it’s a woman’s right to compete in sports that are not dominated by men,” said Rebbie, who also serves as Mastriano’s campaign manager. “They’re trying to cancel us. I know each and every one of you can define a woman and tell some of those in your neighborhood what a woman is. Ladies, we’re going to get out that vote like you’ve never seen before.”

Mastriano said boys in girls’ bathrooms threaten public safety. He backed a bill to ensure only girls and women play women’s sports. Gov. Tom Wolf (D) vetoed that bill, and Shapiro filed an amicus brief opposing Virginia’s efforts to keep boys out of girls’ restrooms and locker rooms.

While the Republican nominee trails in the polls, he told the crowd he is waging a grassroots campaign. Since the primary, he has been to all 67 counties, with Bucks, one of the original counties founded by William Penn, as the last.

Mastriano recalled Washington’s “daring raid” crossing the Delaware River from Bucks County to New Jersey, changing the course of the Revolutionary War. He told his supporters they would do the same and “beat back the Democrats and that far, extreme radial, dangerous policy vision they have for our state and nation. We just say no to Shapiro.”

“The Democrats haven’t changed much,” he said. “They don’t have an argument to stand on, so they call names.”

The Democrats are lying and “fearmongering,” he said. “It’s time to take the state back.”

The Democrats have a “laundry list” of things they do not want to talk about, like shutting down small businesses during COVID and the state deciding which could stay open.

“All the cabinet makers across Pennsylvania were shut down, except one. Wolf Industries,” he said. “You could go to strip clubs but not churches. Life under (Health Secretary Rachel) Levine and life under Shapiro.”

“I was in Germany behind the Iron Curtain in 1989 during the Cold War defending us from what the radical left is planning here,” he said. “The godlessness, the evil empire…The fight for freedom is still ongoing for our country, so our job is not done.”

“For our kids and grandkids, we have to win on the 8th of November,” he said. “Our motto is freedom.”

Conservative writer and commentator Jack Posobiec also spoke, saying he grew up in Norristown. He said when drugs flooded that small city, Shapiro was a Montgomery County commissioner and did nothing to help. Norristown has gotten so bad that Posobiec said he has never taken his two sons to see the street he grew up on.

“This (Democratic) cabal took from us, they took from our families, they want to destroy our families,” he said. “The only thing they care about is power.”

Mastriano’s message resonated with Eileen Storch of Newtown. She opposes boys in girls’ restrooms and biological boys competing in girls’ sports.

“That’s wrong,” she said.

David Fiori, Jr. of Yardley said Mastriano “makes a lot of good sense. He’s applying common sense to politics. He has great leadership skills. He relates to everybody. He understands what the stakes are, and he’s not afraid to face the issues of the day.”

A Montgomery Township woman who did not want to give her name said she supports Mastriano because of “schools, taxes, and the economy.”

Mastriano said he had spoken to 500 people in Chester County earlier in the day and had a second event with Gun Owners of America in Bucks County following the Fuge rally. Reports of the “early demise” of his campaign were utterly wrong, he said.

“You ain’t seen nothing yet.”


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In Bridgeport, Hundreds Rally for Ukraine

Phoenixville resident and teacher Andrij Chornodolsky had a crowd of several hundred on its feet clapping and cheering Sunday at Saints Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church in Bridgeport, rallying in support of Ukraine.

“I think all of us have to bow our heads in front of the huge sacrifice and valor of the Ukrainian nation totally unanticipated, totally unbelievable, all of the military experts (said) Kyiv would fall in 48 hours.

“Kyiv stands today. Kyiv stands today and Kyiv will stand forever…If we have to rebuild every single building, every single historical relic we have preserved for 1,000 years, we rebuild. We will rebuild Ukraine ourselves if we have to…We must preserve a Christian nation, a nation of democratic values,” Chornodolsky told the crowd.

Andrij Chornodolsky with Father Ronald Poplvchak

Chornodolsky said military help is needed.

“We are demanding action now. What must be installed around Kyiv is an iron dome. Without that iron dome, Kyiv will be leveled…We must implement a Berlin-style airlift to Ukraine with a continual flow of weapons and support. Now. Not when Kyiv falls…What is happening is a war of attrition and destruction that has never been seen since World War II.”

Congresswomen Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery) and Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Delaware Co.), were among the officials who attended the event.

Dean took part in a Zoom call with Zelensky and other representatives and senators on Saturday.

“He was exactly as you have seen him in the media, determined. Dignified,” she said. She quoted him saying, “Our values are the same. We want a life with dignity. We want to see our children. We want to sit and have coffee in our homes…We cannot fight this alone…We are not fighting Russia. We are prepared to be their neighbors. Imagine saying that after these past 10 or 11 days. He called upon us for increased sanctions…He said they need air cover, ‘We need jets. We need those MIGs. Javelins, stingers, air cover.’”

“Mr. Putin expected a quick topple of Ukraine’s young democracy,” she said. “Boy, was he wrong. I’m in awe of the resilience of the Ukrainians including their president.”

She called for “overwhelming support,” including weapons, food, fuel, and refuge.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro, state Rep. Austin Davis, Congresswoman Madeleine Dean, Bridgeport Mayor Beth Jacksier, Father Ronald Poplvchak, Council President Kyle Shenk and Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon.

Chornodolsky also expressed surprise and admiration for Ukraine’s president.

“We are grateful for the presence of President Volodymyr Zelensky, totally unexpected. I did not support him for president…I am totally amazed at what this man has done. We are talking about prosecuting President Putin for war crimes but what we ought to be talking about is nominating President Zelensky for the Nobel Peace Prize.  What a sacrifice we are seeing…Putin put 200,000 troops on the border of Ukraine, poor boys, poor children of Russian mothers. They didn’t even know where they were going…Poor boys going back home in plastic bags.

“We don’t wish that on anyone…But we do wish death on those who invade Ukraine.”

Scanlon thanked the Biden administration for permitting the Ukrainians who are already here special status to remain in the U.S. She supports the people of Ukraine and their “gallant president” in the face of the “unprovoked attack on that sovereign nation.”

“The free world has rallied to condemn and sanction Putin,” she said.

This week Congress will approve a package of humanitarian and military aid for Ukraine, she said.

“We are all united behind Ukraine,” she said.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro is the great-grandson of two people who emigrated from Ukraine about 100 years ago. Shapiro, a Democrat running for governor, said he was inspired by the Ukrainians fighting for democracy and their president.

And as a prosecutor, he said, Putin should be prosecuted for war crimes.

“My own faith teaches no one is required to complete the task, nor are we free to refrain from it. I think about that each and every day,” said Shapiro. “It means that each of us has a responsibility to get off the sidelines to get in the game and do our part.”

Irena and Ruslana Naiva hold the Ukrainian flag.

“And so we are gathered here today in the huge numbers that we are you are putting a searing image into the minds of your two congresswomen who will be in Washington D.C. tomorrow and pass a historic appropriation…We are all standing in solidarity with Ukraine,” he said.

The Rev. Dr. Ronald Poplvchak, pastor of the church, said a Ukrainian mother and her 4-year-old daughter whose apartment building was bombed, began to walk and hitchhike 20 miles to the Polish border with “only the clothes on their backs.”

“The mother looked at the little girl. Her right hand was bleeding,” he said.

The child was tightly clutching a handful of sharp pebbles. She told her mother she did not have her doll or her bear and the stones were all she had left from her home.

He thanked the Polish people for taking in one million Ukrainian refugees so far and asked the crowd to donate, as well. The group responded, filling collection baskets with cash and checks. The rally ended with the group singing the Ukrainian national anthem while the American and Ukrainian flags flanked the dais.

Volunteers also collected about three container trucks of donations at the Ukrainian Cultural Center in Abington.

“The place is towering with donations,” Dean said.

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