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They might not be in Minnesota anymore, but that doesn't mean they can't celebrate America's independence.
Minnesotans who have made aliya or are just spending time here will have a chance to reconnect with friends from the old country at the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel's annual US Independence-Canada Day picnic at Kraft Stadium in Jerusalem's Sacher Park on Monday.
The AACI paicnic be held from 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. and will feature a concert, sports activities and, of course, fireworks. The entrance fee is NIS 15, and NIS 10 for seniors, children and soldiers. The fifth child and up gets in free.
While there are many hometown groups in Israel from cities, counties and states, Minnesotans in Israel, which has about 300 members, is the only group known to plan a reunion at the picnic.
"It's a great way to keep in touch or just reconnect with other friends from Minnesota," said Judy Petel, one of the organizers of the reunion. She said she expected 50 to 75 people to show up.
Petel, who made aliya in 1983, has been involved with Minnesotans in Israel since she moved to Jerusalem 18 years ago. She said they try to have a reunion every five years or so, and that they also publish directories so people can stay in touch both in Israel and with family and friends back in America.
"We're a very cohesive community," Petel said. "We'll get together, see each other, and enjoy the picnic."
Chanah Shapira, organizer of the AACI picnic, said she expected 1,500-2,000 people to attend. She said that although many of the attendees have made aliya, there was no reason for them to give up everything American in their lives.
"We have a lot to offer Israel as Americans," Shapira said. "It's important for us to retain the positive things we brought from America, like Independence Day and Thanksgiving, without denigrating the Israeli way of life."