Knesset parties away ‘White Night’.
(photo credit: YITZHAK HARARI)
In a continuing celebration of 70 years of Israeli independence, Theodor Herzl stood on stage at the Knesset Wednesday night and thanked the crowd of hundreds of people from all over the country.
“Thank you for making my vision come true,” Herzl said, brought to life by actor Achiya Zallayet.
The stage was set up in the courtyard of the Knesset for one of two “white night” parties, reminiscent of the all-night politics that happen there. Music was played all night, ending with a headphone party where music was synced through wireless headphones so the festivities wouldn’t disturb surrounding neighborhoods.
This is the first time a celebration like this was held at the Knesset.
Zallayet and other actors who portrayed historic figures such as David Ben-Gurion and Menachem Begin spoke to the organizers of the event, including Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel.
“The Knesset belongs to all of us,” Gamliel said in a statement.
“It is our home and our fortress. It is the place where we make decisions about our lives, and which highlights that we are a free nation in our homeland.”
Musicians such as Sarit Hadad, Karolina, and Izhar Cohen performed for concert-goers in the transformed courtyard, amid lighting effects that covering the crowd in blue and white light.
The members of the crowd, who were able to get tickets for free, listened from chairs, beanbags and the standing room in front of the stage.
For the people gathered, the night meant much more than the music. “It is like a dream,” Michael Beber said. “Our fathers and grandfathers hoped and dreamed about Jerusalem, and we are here to celebrate this dream. How great it’s a reality!”
Other people also tied the night’s significance to their ancestors. “My grandparents wouldn’t believe we’re here in Jerusalem,” Ariella Shapira said, surrounded by her family. “My father was a soldier in the Six Day War. It’s been a dream of 2,000 years for us.” Her son, Noam, agreed.
“We’re [here] because we have a lot of past here, and there’s no other place for us Jews,” he said. “This is our homeland. This is our home.”
In between acts, the history of Israel was projected onto the Knesset wall, showing scenes of national successes, technological advances and laws passed in the Knesset. The show, created by Eduardo Hubscher, who also did the Independence Day projection show, was commissioned by the Knesset.
“[They wanted to] make something different in a very abstract and poetic way,” Hubscher said.
To Anat Yaakov, the night was about celebrating how far Israel has come in such a short amount of time. It was also about “connection to the Knesset and our leader and people who show us the way.”
To Noga Avidah, the celebration meant “that we’re here to stay.”