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Jewish LGBTQ activists silently mourn civilian deaths in Gaza

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A marcher prepares to lay her effigies to rest in Manhattan on Dec. 28.

Donna Aceto

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A silent demonstration organized by Jewish Elders and led by several LGBTQ individuals in Manhattan on Dec. 28 brought attention to the civilian death toll — particularly the deaths of children — in the Israel-Gaza war.

Instead of vocal chants and descriptive signs, activists carried hundreds of effigies representing babies who have been killed in the war. Individuals were specifically instructed not to bring signs — only certain signs memorializing children were permitted — and they marched in twos from Bryant Park to the area around Times Square. While the march featured no chanting or singing, there were drumbeats and the death knell of bells.

Marchers, walking in twos, carry effigies representing the deaths of babies and young children in Gaza.Donna Aceto

One sign read, “Every dead child is a loss for all,” while a banner hoisted in front of the crowd called for a ceasefire. Signs mourning children featured pictures of individuals with the words “WE MOURN” and their names. Participants were asked to wear black.

At one point, folks lined each of the effigies on the ground in one large display alongside the signs featuring pictures of children who died.  

Organizer Leslie Cagan (middle, left) guides the process of laying effigies to rest.Donna Aceto

There were likely well over 1,000 people on hand at the march, which marked the latest demonstration in response to a war in Gaza that has lasted for nearly three months following Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel. In the wake of Israel’s invasion of Gaza, more than 20,000 deaths have been reported, including many children, and a humanitarian crisis has devastated the population. At the same time, Hamas still holds more than 100 hostages whose families and loved ones have desperately demanded their safe return.

Organizers of the march included Leslie Cagan, an honoree of the 2022 Gay City News Impact Awards, and Barbara Shulman. Among other participants included Katherine Acey, the former executive director of Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice and also a past Impact Award honoree.

Laura Flanders, host of The Laura Flanders show on PBS, holds signs memorializing slain children.Donna AcetoKatherine Acey carries a sign during the silent march.Donna Aceto


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