Tel Aviv went wild for homecoming Eurovision queen Netta Barzilai, who made a grand return to Israel Monday, putting on a vibrant performance for a buzzing audience at Rabin Square.
Thousands of people, including many children and youngsters, packed into the square, squeezed side-by-side like sardines in order to get as close as possible to the stage. Some girls and women wore their hair in Barzilai’s trademark style, storefronts on the way to the square proudly displayed posters for Barzilai and the City Hall was lit up in her honor with the word “Toy” a heart and the Israeli flag as well as her name.
Ahead of Barzilai’s much-anticipated appearance, DJ Dalit Rechester warmed up the enthusiastic crowd, followed by performances by previous Israeli Eurovision contestants including Izhar Cohen, Avi Toledano, Orna and Moshe Datz, Gali Atari.
Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai introduced Barzilai, using the phrase of endearment used repeatedly since Barzilai’s win “kapara aleich,” meaning “we love you,” but also a play on words connected with Barzilai’s famous chicken-clucking sounds.
“I love you all, my loves,” Barzilai told the adoring crowd, amid screams as she took the stage. “There is a unity that hasn’t been seen here for years. Everything is for you, thank you so much. We have a reason to be happy, don’t let anybody put your fire out – nobody will put our fire out.”
“I am proud of you and I am proud of the delegation,” she said, the latter which she said got her to where they are with their positivity.
The 25-year-old singer gave the crowd two renditions of her hit song “Toy,” with a lot of help from the audience.
Barzilai had returned to Israel in the early hours of Monday morning and gave a press conference at Ben-Gurion Airport, where she told reporters that she was very proud and happy to bring Israel a reason to be happy.
The party at Rabin Square went on long after Barzilai left the stage, with a DJ ensuring that the dancing and merriment continued.