Israel Independence Day Celebration at Thomas Paine Plaza

Celebrations for Israel’s 71st Independence Day took place at Thomas Paine Plaza, 15th Street and JFK Boulevard in Philadelphia, on Thursday, May 9, 2019.

Rabbi Batya Glazer, Director of the Jewish Community relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, said of the event, “This is our opportunity to come together as a community, to celebrate Israel’s 71st anniversary.” In spite of the inclement weather, she said, “we’re hoping for the best.” Volunteers handed out samples of Israeli confections, including cookies from the Israeli restaurant Zahav.

Addie Lewis-Klein, Director of Community Engagement   of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, said, “We are out here at City Hall celebrating Israel’s 71st birthday.” That morning, she added, Philadelphia’s City Council passed a resolution supporting Israel, “and now we’re out here, under the billowing Israeli flag,” she said, “giving out Israeli treats and taking pictures with Israeli flags to show our support, and giving out some information and other fun things to show our support for Israel.”

Yoni Ali, Executive Director of the Israeli American Council of Philadelphia, said, “We come to celebrate the 71st anniversary of Israel, to show the support of the Philadelphia community to Israel, to show the love for Israel, and to give the people of Philadelphia some facts about Israel. We have a large Israeli-American community in Philadelphia that supports Israel and loves Israel.” Ali handed out cards showing facts about Israel.

Michael Sklaroff, a graduate of Barrack Academy, represented the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF). “I’m here to raise awareness,” he said, “for our organization, which helps wounded soldiers recover, and supports people who want to go over to Israel to enlist in the IDF, but don’t have a place to stay and a stipend for meals.” Sklaroff said a number of young people go to Israel to serve in the military, “tons of people in our organization.” FIDF, added Sklaroff, also provides scholarships for Israeli military personnel who want to go on to college.

In Search of Israeli Cuisine at the Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival

— by Debbie Fleischman

The Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival kicks off its CineMonday series on Monday, March 28 at 7:30 PM at the Gershman Y with the Philadelphia Premiere of In Search of Israeli Cuisine, directed by Robert Sherman.

A portrait of the Israeli people through food, In Search of Israeli Cuisine is a mouth-watering documentary that follows Michael Solomonov, the James Beard award-winning chef and restaurateur behind the Philadelphia dining establishment Zahav, as he returns to his homeland to discuss his culinary heritage. From Tel Aviv’s most exclusive eateries to street bazaars and simmering pots in family kitchens, Solomonov travels the length and breadth of Israel, meeting with an eclectic group of professional and amateur chefs, cheese makers, vintners, farmers, and fisherman, to define the ever-growing lexicon of Israeli cuisine. As Solomonov immerses himself in the local flavors of the myriad cultures that make up the Israeli people – Jewish, Arab, Muslim, Christian and Druze–Oscar-nominated documentarian Roger Sherman offers a behind-the-scenes look at a dynamic Israeli food scene rooted in centuries-old tradition. Sherman shines a light on the sectarian conflict when Palestinian cooks chafe as their savory secrets are adapted by Jewish chefs, and the story behind the ingredients that Israel produces using both ancient farming techniques and high-tech innovations.

The screening will be followed by a conversation with celebrity chef and restaurateur Michael Solomonov and director Roger Sherman, moderated by the Senior Editor of New York Magazine’s Grub Street, Sierra Tishgart. After the talk, Michael will be signing his cookbook, Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking, during a separately-ticketed book signing/reception featuring hummus by Dizengoff (and other tasty treats) and Israeli wine.

Tickets to the Opening Night Film only are $15; $30 if attending the post-film book signing and reception; $60 for the film, book signing/reception, and Zahav cookbook. Tickets are available online or by calling 215-545-4400.