Better late than never, Israel Independence Day was celebrated in fine style on Wednesday despite the week-long snow delay.
More than 150 people came to the Boulder JCC – festooned with Israeli flags – to celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut, which was designed as a family-friendly event for all ages. The crowd has at least half Israelis, and children outnumbered adults. There were even CU college students from the Program in Jewish Studies.
With funding from 18 Pomegranates, staffing and hosting by the Boulder JCC, and the participation of all the area community agencies – Haver: Boulder’s Rabbinic Fellowship, Allied Jewish Federation, CU Hillel, Har Hashem, Bonai Shalom, Aish Kodesh Nevei Kodesh, and Beth Ami. The evening’s activities were organized by Yael Oren along with a committee of local Israelis.
Families enjoyed falafel while watching the Israeli dancing led by Judy Megibow, followed by a belly-dancing participatory performance. Some families spent part of the time viewing a 50-minute film that provided an aerial view of Israel, narrated by Itzhak Perlman. There was drumming in one room, arts and crafts in another, and games in a third.
Outside, the new gaga-pit made its official debut. (Yes, the Shehecheyanu was said.)
Inside, children played with legos, bounced around the Tumble Room, created mosaic art projects, and tested their knowledge of Israel with creative games.
Three older students created a rap song with Mark Megibow, which they performed as the official ceremony began. The JCC Preschool children performed the popular Hebrew song “Od Yavo Shalom Aleinu.”
Seven community members were invited to the stage for a short candle lighting ceremony. (See text below).
Hanan Nayberg, the director of CU Hillel and an Israeli, said a prayer for the Jewish homeland. The evening came to a close with Har HaShem Cantorial Soloist Holli Berman leading Hatikva.
Many lingered on to enjoy popsicles and conversation, while tired children waving flags left, having wished Israel a happy belated birthday.
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Candle 1: I, Noam Dahary from JCC Denver, light this candle in the memory of the soldiers who fought for the independence of the State of Israel, who stood a few against many during the hard and bloody battles for the freedom of the Jewish people to have an independent country.
For the Independence of the State of Israel.
Candle 2: I, Sheila Malcolm from Congregation Beth Ami, light this candle in honor of our people who immigrated to Israel from around the world and from diverse cultures, who worked together to build a new homeland for the Jewish people.
For the ingathering of the exiles, building the land and for the glory of the State of Israel.
Candle 3: I, Steven Hill, from Congregation Bonai Shalom, light this candle to strengthen the connection between the Jewish community of Boulder and Israel, including our partnership with the Ramat Ha’Negev community.
For prosperity, making friends and for the glory of the State of Israel.
Candle 4: I, Itamar Yadid, an officer in the Israeli Defense Force, light this candle in memory of the fighters of the Israel Defense Forces, who fell in the wars of Israel and in honor of the Israeli soldiers who guard day and night and protect the borders of Israel by risking their own lives.
For the Israeli Defense Force, its soldiers and for the glory of the State of Israel.
Candle 5: I Elon Bar-Evan from Congregation Aish Kodesh, light this candle in honor of our children and grandchildren, who are the next generation of the Jewish people, wherever they will choose to live.
For the continuation of our Jewish culture and tradition, and for the glory of the State of Israel.
Candle 6: I, Evie Cohen from Congregation Nevei Kodesh, light this candle for our devotion to peace with our neighbors, and to our hope that one day we shall turn our swords into plowshares and neither shall we know the way of war.
For a future of hope and peace, and for the glory of the State of Israel.
Candle 7: I, Shari, Nadiv and Matan Edelstein, light this candle for the preservation of the natural beauty of Israel, and for our duty as stewards of the earth.
For the preservation of the earth and for the glory of the State of Israel.
Here is a video of the event: