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.