Local residents unite for peace Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day
Neighborhood synagogues, Hebrew day schools and local leaders have been holding celebrations for Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, since the evening of Wednesday, May 8.
Yeshiva Har Torah commemorated the 71st anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel with a full day of Israeli-themed fun on Thursday, May 9. Students participated in an outdoor assembly, Israeli lunch, educational activities and inter-grade projects. They also spent time preparing for the 55th annual Celebrate Israel Parade, which will be held on Fifth Avenue in New York City on Sunday, June 2, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., as more than 30 floats, 15 world-class marching bands and 40,000 marchers join in unity in the largest celebration of Israel in the world.
Students at Silverstein Hebrew Academy (SHA) took part in a variety of hands-on activities. Early-education students had the opportunity to taste unique foods connected to Israel. Parents presented cooking demonstrations of Israeli food to elementary students, who were able to eat the creations for lunch. They also took part in a lively dance session and learned traditional Israeli dancing. Middle school students enjoyed an outdoor barbecue celebrating their Holy Land.
“For Jewish Americans, celebrating Yom HaAtzmaut has been a way to strengthen alliances and express solidarity with the State of Israel,” explained Silverstein Hebrew Academy leaders. “The holiday is always preceded by Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day for fallen soldiers.”
In a week that saw Israel forced to defend its citizens against terrorist attack, New York State Senator Anna M. Kaplan of Great Neck issued a statement of strong support for Israel—and a call for unity. She not only celebrated Israel’s Independence Day in Albany, but also joined Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen for a ceremony honoring local Jewish community leaders, culminating with the raising of Israel’s flag in front of Hempstead Town Hall.
“The brutal murder of innocent Israeli civilians at the hands of terrorists this week emphasizes the peril faced by Israelis on a daily basis and reaffirms the need for all Americans to stand united in support of Israel and their right to self defense,” said Kaplan. “As if that weren’t enough, this week NYU’s Department of Social and Cultural Analysis approved an academic boycott of its Tel Aviv campus, officially turning its back on the students and faculty studying there. With these attacks, and the constant persecution Israel faces every day, it’s never been more important for us all to stand up and speak out in the strongest of terms in Israel’s defense. We simply cannot stand by and ignore injustices against our Israeli friends and allies.”
Kaplan spoke out in support of Israel on the New York State Senate floor when the chamber took up a resolution she cosponsored, which congratulated the State of Israel on its 71st anniversary.
The senate proceedings were opened with an invocation by Rabbi Yamin Levy of Beth Hadassah Synagogue in Great Neck, who was invited by Kaplan.
“Supporting and celebrating Israel isn’t a partisan issue,” noted Kaplan. “We must do everything we can to overcome hate and heal division in this country and around the world. It’s a common purpose around which we all can unite.”
The community is invited to continue the celebration of Israel’s 71st birthday with Legislator Ellen W. Birnbaum, Deputy Consul General of Israel, Israel Nitzan, and County Executive Laura Curran on Wednesday, May 22, at 12 p.m. at Theodore Roosevelt Executive & Legislative Building, Ceremonial Chamber, 1550 Franklin Ave. in Mineola.