PHOTO: Fun and flags filled the Mittleman Jewish Community Center during the Yom Ha'atzmaut celebration April 26. Paul Rich Photography
BY DEBORAH MOON
This spring, Portlanders have been busy celebrating the 75th anniversary of the state of Israel.
More than 600 people attended a Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration, 550 enjoyed Israeli superstar Noa in concert, hundreds heard Yossi Klein Halevi speak about Israel’s Identity Crisis at 75 (youtu.be/DVakI5OzArU), participants in the PDX>Israel community trip reunited for a Shabbat dinner and several other programs have reached still others.
To help Portland’s Jewish community mark Israel’s 75th anniversary, the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland provided $20,000 to help support 11 programs this spring, with one still upcoming on June 24 (see story below).
The April 26 Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration at the Mittleman Jewish Community Center featured Israeli dancing, trivia, an Israeli music sing-along and a DJ to close out the night, with special programming for kids and teens. The celebration was a collaboration of the MJCC, Keruv Levavot, IAC and Neveh Shalom’s Israel360. The celebration was sponsored by a JFGP Israel at 75 grant.
“It was wonderful to once again be able to welcome so many members of our community to celebrate Israeli Independence Day,” says MJCC Executive Director Steve Albert. “The partnership between the MJCC and the Israeli community, and the active involvement of so many local Jewish and Israeli organizations, engaged a large, multi-generational crowd who came together to honor Israel@75 and enjoy Israeli dancing, trivia, photography, music, food and more.”
While the Jewish Federation sponsors Yom Ha’atzmaut every year, JFGP President and CEO Marc Blattner said, “We wanted to host another major community event.”
When Congregation Beth Israel Rabbi Michael Cahana told Blattner that Israeli Superstar Noa would be touring in the U.S. this spring, the two decided to team up and bring her to Portland. On April 30, Noa performed for a sold-out crowd at the Patricia Reser Center for the Arts in Beaverton.
Noa captivated the crowd, weaving storytelling (in musical form) into familiar and original songs. In her first long song, she sang of her joy at being in verdant Portland for the first time, her birth in New York, her family’s move to Jerusalem – the city of gold – when she was 3, her grandparents journey from Yemen to Jerusalem, the demonstrators peacefully flooding the streets every week protesting judicial reform legislation and a host of other experiences. Intermingled with the stories she invited the audience to join her in singing “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav (Jerusalem of Gold).”
David Ben-Gurion proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948 (5 Iyar on the Hebrew calendar, which in 2023 coincides with April 25-26). U.S. President Harry S. Truman recognized the new nation on the same day. Since then, Israel has been a safe haven for the Jewish people and a leader in innovative technologies that have benefited the world.
Israeli folk dancers to celebrate Israel at 75 on June 24
One event still on the horizon is the Israeli Folk Dance Community Party celebrating more than 50 years of folk dancing in Portland and Israel at 75.
The party will be from 4 to 10 pm, Saturday, June 24, at the Multnomah Arts Center.
“This Israeli folk dancing party is a fun and creative way to celebrate Israel at 75 and 50-plus years of dancing in Portland,” says Sue Wendel, long-time dancer, weekly session leader and member of the party planning team. “All levels and ages, beginners to seasoned dancers alike, are welcome. Since 1972, and even before that, Portlanders have danced together, and we look forward to seeing current, new, and returning dancers, even spectators, at the party.”
For more information, visit sites.google.com/site/pifdnews. Registration (no walk-ins) required by June 17 at tinyurl.com/50thFolkdanceParty.