Area to Celebrate Israeli Independence Day

While a few places have already held celebrations in advance of Israel’s 68th year, here is a roundup of a few selected events (there are a lot) going on around the city this week that you can join.


On May 12, Israel turns a young 68 years old. And to celebrate, Philadelphia is breaking out the Goldstar Israeli beer and getting ready to party.
While a few places have already held celebrations in advance of the milestone, here is a roundup of a few selected events (there are a lot) going on around the city this week that you can join.
May 12
On the actual day of the holiday, several schools, synagogues and organizations will be kicking off a weekend of celebrations.
Beth Am Israel will host a fun night of Israeli music, food and more beginning at 6 p.m. for $18.
Development Corporation for Israel and Israel Bonds New Leadership holds the 7th Annual Yom Ha’atzmaut Family Celebration from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Headhouse Square with a carnival, shuk and Glatt kosher food vendors. Admission is $20 per person or $55 per family.
This is the first year there will be a shuk and the first time it will be held at the square, said Susan Schiffrin, registered representative for Israel Bonds.
There will be vendors with clothing, jewelry, artwork and other booths to give the atmosphere of what you find in Israel, she said.
“I’m looking forward to having the community celebrate Israel at 68 and just enjoying the atmosphere,” she said, “and hopefully thinking about investing in Israel bonds.”
The Kehillah of Old York Road will join the Yom Ha’atzmaut fun at two locations.
At Gratz College, from 5 to 8 p.m., enjoy an Israeli shuk, kids’ activities and food at the event provided by Nat Sugarman, supervised by Rabbi Dov Brisman. At 6 p.m., hear Israeli Choir Havurat Hazemer followed by a concert by a cappella group The Maccabeats from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
At Adath Jeshurun, from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m., enjoy dessert, music and dancing with the Beth Sholom Israeli Dancers. Please bring non-perishable kosher food as a donation to The Mitzvah Food Pantry. Tickets are not required.
Friends of Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) and Congregation Mikveh Israel will celebrate at 7 p.m. at the synagogue. Meet and salute Israeli soldiers, American servicemen and veterans and enjoy music, dancing, appetizers, wine and beer. Tickets: $18 in advance and $36 at the door.
Schools are getting into the spirit as well.
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy will celebrate Israel’s 68th birthday beginning with the Torch ceremony, in which they will honor 12 people from the Akiba-Barrack community for their deeds for Israel. The 12th torch is dedicated to alumni currently serving in the IDF.
Next will be iCon — Israel Conference — where each student participates in two workshops about Israeli-related topics, ranging from Krav Maga and Israeli fashion to Israeli innovations and Israel in the media.
After a keynote speaker and a special performance by Echad Ha’am, the whole school is invited to an Israeli party with an Israeli lunch, Israeli DJ, Henna painting, Israeli photo booth and more. The day ends with the screening of an Israeli movie.
May 13
Some places are using Shabbat services as a means of celebrating as a community — and then jazzing it up a little.
Society Hill Synagogue will celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut with a performance at 6:15 p.m. by Nitzan Haroz, an Israeli native and principal trombonist with the Philadelphia Orchestra from 1995 to 2012. He rejoined in 2015 after playing everywhere from New York to Israel and is on the faculty at the Curtis Institute.
There will be a Shabbat dinner following services. Reservations are strongly encouraged.
May 15
Karen Kantor is looking forward to Old York Road Temple-Beth Am’s big outdoor celebration and Family Fun Day from noon to 2 p.m. — and hoping for good weather.
This is the first time the synagogue is holding an event for Israel Independence Day on such a large scale, said Kantor, the synagogue’s executive director.
“When we realized that there wouldn’t be a citywide celebration, we felt this was a good chance to do something for not only our congregation but the community at large,” she said.
Guests can volunteer and participate, and everyone is encouraged to attend. There will be food from Israeli flavors like hummus and falafel to carnival staples like hot dogs, pretzels and water ice. And there will be plenty of activities for the kids, said Marilyn Webster, coordinator of membership and programming.
There will be moon bounces, face painting, music, dancing, crafts and games like a bean toss, Webster said.
“We’re really just looking to raise awareness about Beth Am in addition to celebrating Israel Independence Day,” she said. “We’re looking for a better sense of closeness in our own community.”
Another first this year is that the religious school children will be building a replica of Jerusalem out of Legos.
“Our religious school principal heard about the organization that brings the bricks and thought it would be a great program to tie in to bring the kids into the celebration of Israel,” Kantor said.
The kids will build it in the auditorium in the morning, so they’ll “really have something to celebrate at noon when the outdoor party begins.”
Further, guests can put notes into the Western Wall — at least, the Lego version — before the rabbi leads a trip to Israel in June and will take the notes with him and put them in the real Western Wall.
There also will be a film screening of Above and Beyond. 
Later that day, there will be plenty of happenings around the area with a real sense of kehillah.
The Kehillah of Chester County presents Rick Recht in concert at Beth Chaim Reform Congregation in Malvern for $5 per person and free to children under the age of 3. This is a family event, open to the entire community.
The Bux-Mont Neighborhood Kehillah will present “Celebrate Israel!” at Congregation Or Ami in Lafayette Hill. Join in for Israeli dancing from 1 to 2 p.m., followed by the opportunity to build Jerusalem out of Legos with architect Steven Schwartz of Building Blocks Workshops from 2 to 4 p.m. Israeli fare will be served.
Congregation Beth El-Ner Tamid will celebrate with a concert by Six13, a Jewish a cappella group, at 7:30 p.m., followed by dessert.
Congregation Beth Hamedrosh will celebrate at 4:30 p.m. with a falafel dinner catered by Nana’s Kitchen (Community Kashrus Supervision). The dinner plate includes staples such as fresh falafel in pita bread, Israeli salad, vegetable sides and a cookie or brownie for $10 to $12, depending upon side dishes. At 5:30 p.m., enjoy a free screening of The Prime Ministers: The Pioneers.
For more information and to see even more (more!) events, check out the community calendar here.
Contact:; 215-832-0740


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