TA enjoys largest fireworks show ever

3-month cultural program to strengthen French-Israeli ties kicks off.

fireworks88 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
French pyrotechnic giant Groupe F lit up the southern section of Tel Aviv's promenade Tuesday night with what has being advertised as one of the biggest fireworks displays ever, anywhere. The fireworks were launched from a specially-built raft a mile off the southern Tel Aviv shore. An estimated 250,000 people gathered on the Tel Aviv beachfront to watch the 20-minute display. There were so many people, Noam Rettig told The Jerusalem Post, "that you can't move." Dudu Basher, who spoke to the Post while watching the display, said there were "boats on the sea from horizon to horizon [watching the show]. The explosions are reflecting off the hotels. This is the most amazing thing I've ever seen," he enthused, calling some of the fireworks "practically alive." "This is an amazing gesture by the French," he concluded. Groupe F was putting its talents on display at the invitation of the French Association for Artistic Action (called the AFAA, according to its French name) and the French embassy in Israel. The explosive fireworks show officially kicks off a three-month cultural program designed to strengthen ties between Israel and France. The largest fireworks production company in the world, Groupe F scorched the skies with a 20-minute, NIS 1,000,000 pyrotechnic extravaganza that began at 8:30 p.m. Perhaps best-known for designing the fireworks displays at the 2004 and 2006 Olympic Games, Groupe F has provided pyrotechnic displays at other large-scale events around the world. Back home, the group produced the Eiffel Tower fireworks show over New Year's in 2000. The Tuesday night fireworks came a day after the official announcement in France of the creation of the French-Israel Foundation, and will also honor the opening of the new French Institute in Tel Aviv. Though its sponsors say the pyrotechnics were timed for Lag Ba'omer, a day traditionally characterized by bonfires, the holiday was actually over when the show started. The opening last week of the French Film Festival, an event taking place in cinematheques around Israel, represents only a small piece of the French cultural offerings coming to Israel over the next few months. Between Tuesday and the end of August, the largest French program ever hosted by Israel, "Voila! Une saison fran aise en Isra l," will sponsor exhibitions, concerts, plays, dance shows and festivals all over the country. Directly preceding the fireworks show, "Dialogues!"‚ an exhibition of creations by the renowned French clothing designer, will open at the Reading Power Station in Tel Aviv. Over 60 designs and accessories from private collections will be on display, ranging from haute couture to pr t- -porter. In addition to the clothing, bags, accessories and shoes, a collection of sculptures, paintings, photographs and videos by contemporary French artists will be showcased. "Dialogue!" will be open until June 15. On Wednesday, May 17, at 12:30 p.m., a display by Clara Halter, "Tents of Peace‚" will open at the panoramic Talpiot promenade in Jerusalem. Halter is an artist known for promoting peace through monuments and has exhibited her work in Paris, Saint Petersburg and Hiroshima. The display in Jerusalem will include 20 tents on which she has written the word "peace" in calligraphy in 18 alphabets and hundreds of languages. The tents represent the sacred tent in which Moses deposited the Tabernacle during the Israelites' years of desert wandering. Inside each domed swath of material, a screen connected to the Internet will broadcast peace messages from the entire world. One tent will allow members of the public to create their own letters of peace. Halter plans to hang a gigantic cloth (160 meters wide by 70 meters high), with the word "peace" in many languages from the Abu Tor cliff overlooking the city. The mayor of Jerusalem, Uri Lupolianski, will participate in the exhibition's opening. The tents will be open for visitors until May 25. For more information, visit www.voila.org.il.