Click Here for a Slideshow from the Event!
The juxtaposition is rather logical: a day of somber remembrance where we commemorate those who paid the ultimate price for the Jewish homeland followed quickly by a day of celebration where, as a community, we rejoice in Israel’s independence!
Thank you for being part of this special time of year with us.
The events began with Yom HaZikaron on May 8, when some 300 people attended a special service for fallen Israeli soldiers and victims of terror. Eight Israeli veterans visited Pittsburgh through the American Friends of Israel War Disabled Foundation and participated in the poignant program.
Native Israeli and current Pittsburgher Hila Biton read a moving poem she wrote about her brother, Guy, who fell defending Israel in 1986. The Spirit of Israel Teen Delegation, a talented troupe from Pittsburgh's Partnership 2000 sister communities of Karmiel and the Misgav region performed. A special thank you to Rabbi Eli Seidman, President of the Greater Pittsburgh Rabbinic Association, who led the community in prayer and to Judy Wein, Chair of the Israel and World Jewry Commission, for serving as the honorary chair of Yom HaZikaron.
We transitioned from tears of sadness to tears of joy, as more than a thousand people attended the festive Yom Ha'atzmaut celebration at the Jewish Community Center in Squirrel Hill. The crowd enjoyed an upbeat performance by the Spirit of Israel teens, as well as a refreshing dessert on a warm day from Steve Katz and Larry Maloney, owners of the Squirrel Hill Rita's Ice, who kindly donated and served Italian Ice to the community. A special thank you to Lynn Berman for volunteering her time as the entertainment manager for the stage…again! Between the petting zoo, moonwalks, Israeli dancing, and the delicacies provided by our food vendors, the day was action-packed everywhere you turned!
Many more got in on the action, when another Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration was held the following day at the South Hills JCC. Our young guests from Israel once again performed. Participants enjoyed crafts, a petting zoo, an authentic dinner of falafel with the fixins’ and an inflatable bounce house. Jan Levinson chaired both Israel Independence Day celebrations.
The week culminated with an Israel booth at the Pittsburgh Folk Festival. Rabbi Symons of Temple David and Rabbi Tuchman of Temple B'nai Israel, among others, made the booth a smashing success. Thanks to Lee Feldman, our community liaison to and member of the Pittsburgh Folk Festival Committee who works tirelessly to ensure the success of the Israel booth. Hundreds of people, including many fourth- eighth graders who were a part of the Multicultural Educational Program, took a "tour" of our Israel booth and made bookmarks with their names written in Hebrew.
The festivities, a week-long roller coaster of emotions, were a testament to the community's collective appreciation of Israel. Thank you for participating!