Independence Day celebrated globally

Israel's Independence Day has grown into an international party.

budapest celebration 88  (photo credit: Courtesy Photo)
budapest celebration 88
(photo credit: Courtesy Photo)
From Los Angeles to Budapest, Jews all over the world will be celebrating Israel's 58th anniversary. The Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is proud to present their "From Israel With Love Gala Show," which will include several headline acts. Israel's Eyal Golan and Britain's own Vanessa Feltz will be performing for an expected 5,000 spectators, making it one of the biggest events in the UK Jewish calendar. There will also be two IDF bands, as well as Kidanza, a young dance troupe, the Inter School Choirs and the winners of the Yom Ha'atzmaut song contest. "We're very proud that the British Jewish community comes together in the strongest way for Israel," comments Alan Aziz, executive director of the Zionist Federation. "The Reform, Liberal, Masorti and Orthodox communities all come to celebrate together." In Paris, the Consistoire de France has organized a ceremony at the Grande Synagogue de la Victoire. The evening will include Israeli artists and singers with performances by Phil Barney, Francis Lalanne, Adama and Les Forbans. The event is expected to draw 1,500 participants. This year the Danish Zionist Federation has invited all the Jewish and non-Jewish friendship organizations of Denmark to partake in a big party in Copenhagen. "We outgrew the Jewish community center so now we have it in a Jewish primary school," says Inger Kramarz, spokesperson for the DZF. "Jens Rohde, a representative of the Danish Liberal Party, has been invited to speak on a topic of his choice, implementing our famous freedom of speech laws," she adds humorously. Yom Ha'atzmaut celebrations will be carried out in the three largest Jewish communities in Sweden. In Stockholm, the Israeli embassy will hold an invitation-only reception and afterwards there will be a party organized by the Stockholm Jewish Center. The Gothenburg Jewish community and the Malm Jewish community will also be hosting their own parties. In Budapest, festivities arranged by the Jewish Agency and its many partners will take place on May 21st, in the Millenaris Park in downtown Budapest. Throughout the day there will be programs for children organized by the Youth Movements (Bnei Akiva, Habonim Dror, Hashomer Hatzair), as well as Hora dancing with professional teachers, an Israel information tent, a talk-show about the Middle East and singers in the afternoon for adults. In the evening Hadag Nahash is scheduled to be on stage, preceded by the Klezmer-hip-hop fusion band Haseger. Last year there were 8,000 people in attendance with even more expected this year. Over the ocean in Canada, there will be major festivities held in Montreal and Toronto, among other Canadian cities. The motto for this year's celebration in Montreal is 'for the children by the children'. This year's events will be led by an enthusiastic group of Jewish day school students who have been working in close cooperation with Federation CJA. Their rethink of the annual event aims to get youth involved as much as possible in all aspects of the day. Israeli Consul-General Marc Attali will be speaking, along with Cote St. Luc City Mayor Anthony Housefather. Students from Jewish schools will be making presentations about Israel and many will also be performing. At least 1,500 students and adults are expected at Trudeau Park with high-spirited singing and dancing. A major party will be held in honor of Yom Ha'atzmaut at the Afterlife night club in downtown Toronto. The party, which is the biggest Yom Ha'atzmaut party in Canada, involves all the youth movements and federation groups in the city. The Toronto Jewish community will be having an all-day event behind the Bathurst JCC featuring a kosher BBQ, carnival games and live music including Toronto's own Bais Groove in addition to Israel's Moshav Band. South of the border in the United States, Yom Ha'atzmaut celebrations are taking place in just about every major city. This year the Tampa Jewish Community Center brings Israel to downtown Tampa for the first time. On Sunday May 7th the Independence Day events will officially begin with a solidarity walk for Israel, all-day activities including American, Israeli and Jewish cuisine, Israeli vendors and products and Israeli rock music by the Moshav Band. The United Jewish Community/Jewish Federation of Las Vegas plan to present the biggest and best Yom Ha'atzmaut festival in the city's history. On Sunday, May 21, the free community-wide event will welcome thousands of residents to the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino to celebrate Israel. In Los Angeles, a community-wide celebration for Israel's 58th Independence Day will be kicked off (also on May 7th) by the LA County Sheriff Department Golden Stars Skydiving Team as they skydive into the Woodley Park. Dignitaries participating in this year's official ceremony will include Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Congressman Howard Berman and Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles Ehud Danoch. Several artists from Israel will perform on the main stage, including Israeli super star Dudu Fisher and the famous rock group Mashina. Other acts slated to perform are Balkan Beat Box, the Sam Glaser Band and Chutzpah, the Jewish hip hop phenomenon. There will also be a continuous fashion show featuring wares from famous LA boutiques. The festival is expected to draw crowds of up to 30,000 people.