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By Meira Fine
This spring, the Israeli American Council is partnering with Jewish Federations, JCCs, and other organizations to host major Celebrate Israel festivals in Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Las Vegas, Arizona, Seattle, Chicago and New Jersey from May 7th until June 11th. Additional celebrations will be hosted by community groups through IAC Beyachad (IAC Together) in many metropolitan areas, including Salt Lake City, Tucson, St. Louis, Atlanta, and Omaha. More than 50,000 pro-Israel Americans of all backgrounds and faiths will come together to celebrate Israel and commemorate the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem.The events will constitute the largest Israel celebration outside of Israel on record, a feat the IAC repeats each year.
“We are thrilled to bring people together from across the pro-Israel community to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Jerusalem’s reunification in what will be the largest celebration of Israel outside of Israel in history,” said IAC CEO Shoham Nicolet. “Israeli-Americans are very proud of the increasing role that we are playing as a bridge between the America and Israel, and within the Jewish and pro-Israel
communities here in the United States.”
Each event will feature its own depictions of Jerusalem’s reunification. In Los Angeles, a 24-ft. tall Towerof David, life-size replica of the Kotel, and past-and-present photography exhibit by Noam Chen will bring participants face-to-face with the Jewish people’s eternal capital. In Boston, attendees will enjoy an archeological dig, shop in a replica of the Machane Yehuda Shuk, and enjoy performances from a
range of Israeli and Jewish artists and student groups.
Past Celebrate Israel events have brought unique and iconic Israeli experiences to regions across the U.S. – from the more than 15,000 attendees who turned out years past in Los Angeles to hear the sounds of Israeli headliners, like Idan Raichel, to the thousands of participants who mingled in Tel Aviv beach sand in Boston.
By Laurel Fairworth
Judgement Day is coming June 5, 2017, for a group of local students. A trio of well known experts will decide which of the two dozen students involved in the Eitanim leadership building program, a national program with 17 groups across the US, has created a unique way to capture the past while looking ahead to the future of Israel. The Israeli American Council sponsored program is especially timely now in light of recent anti-Israeli sentiment. The judges have all demonstrated they have the right stuff, excelling in various businesses. Ami Miron, who was very successful in the public sector, says he is looking for innovation and the wow factor. “Technology is the tool to create bridges and connect the Israeli and Jewish communities. That is what I am looking for in these student projects,” explained Miron.
Ninth through twelfth graders at Barrack Hebrew Academy and various high schools in the Greater Philadelphia area were challenged during this seven month project to think outside the box. They were asked to innovate with the hope they would find a deeper connection with the Holy Land. Since September, the kids have been putting long hours into their inventions. Liat Dorani says she has been surprised about what she discovered. “Eitanim has been an amazing way for me to understand people I normally think I don’t have any similarities with. I got to learn there that these teenagers are the same as me, living and breathing pride in their Judaism and their pride in the state of Israel,” said Dorani. Fifty percent of the students are Israeli-Americans the other half are Jewish-Americans.
Tasked with developing unique ways to showcase modern Israel while honoring our collective past the teens benefited from the advice and guidance of mentors such as Shai Shermister. He rose to prominence at SAP and was in turn surprised about what he got back from the experience. He is looking forward to seeing the students’ finished products.
Students say they have developed a deep appreciation for those who preceded them and all things Israeli, and an unexpected friendship with each other. The idea for this exercise was that it would hone skills and help the group excel when they go to college.
The public is invited to view and try out the students’ creations on June 5, 2017, at Main Line Reform Temple, 410 Montgomery Avenue Wynnewood, PA 19096.
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You are invited to a community Shabbat Celebration with an Israeli flavor!
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Have you ever enjoyed an Israeli-style Shabbat dinner? They tend to be casual family get-togethers, with delicious home-cooked food. Even many secular Israelis still congregate for Shabbat dinner every Friday evening, sans the blessings. If you are not fortunate enough to have an Israeli relative to invite you, you may now join the Israeli American Council (IAC) community for potluck Shabbat dinners. The main courses are cooked at the venue by a group of volunteers, lead by Devorah Selber and Mazal Fellah. [Read more…]
By Laurel Fairworth
In light of recent developments it is more important than ever to remind people about what can happen when anti-Semitism is left unchecked. Recently, cemetery stones have been overturned, bomb threats made against synagogues and we have seen a dramatic rise in hate crimes against Jews. To combat that a new pilot program called Eitanim (which means the strong or steadfast ones), is encouraging teenagers to use technology in a novel way to share what happened in the past to deepen connection to Israel in the future. [Read more…]
Ben-Dror Yemini is an Israeli journalist for the daily newspaper Yedioth Aharonot. He published a series of articles about the Israeli-Arab conflict in which he examined issues of genocide, refugees, human rights violations, the status of Israeli Arabs, multiculturalism, BDS, and the status of women.
The lecture will be given in English.
Free admission for students!
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By Laurel FairworthSitting around a table and sharing a meal is an easy and natural way to connect with people of backgrounds different from one’s own. That’s why the Israeli American Council (IAC) has launched Shishi Israeli, an Israeli version of traditional Shabbat dinners taking place over the next several months in Center City, the Main Line, Elkins Park and Cherry Hill, NJ. It is hoped these Shabbat celebrations will help bridge the gap between American Jews and the Israeli community. Yoni Ari, IAC Executive Director of the Philadelphia chapter, says, “Friendships and the understanding of each other’s culture can take place while breaking bread and jointly savoring the Friday night tradition.” These Shabbat evenings are open to all, especially to Israeli Americans unaffiliated with a synagogue. Ari continued, “Shishi Israeli is not religious, but rather it is a joyous cultural experience showcasing an Israeli flair with food and music.”
The Friday night events feature singing, dancing, and of course copious amounts of ethnic cuisine. A traditional dinner consists of Moroccan style fish, chicken with fruit, and meatballs with hummus. “Israelis love a big table laid out with all the courses served at the same time. That way they can eat whatever they want depending on their mood,” explained Ari. “This is the typical Jewish way to welcome the new week.” It is hoped that the program will be a magnet for many families from both the Israeli and American communities, creating meaningful and during connections.
Special emphasis will be placed on the next Shishi Israeli scheduled for February 10, 2017. In honor of Tu Bishvat, donations will be collected to plant trees to replace those burned in the recent forest fires that swept Haifa. The following dinners are March 17 in Elkins Park, March 31 at Rodeph Shalom in Philadelphia and early April at a date to be determined in south New Jersey. All of the events are in partnership with local groups which means each is unique. However they will have in common the same Israeli zest for life and Middle Eastern culinary flair.