Jews around the Metroplex, young and old celebrated Israel Independence Day last week. Whether at the JCC’s community celebration or at parades at area preschools and day schools, folks got in the spirit, donning blue and white and waving the Israeli flag proudly.
The Dallas Jewish community came together at the JCC to celebrate Israel’s 62nd year of independence. The event was planned by a committee comprising representatives from 30 Jewish organizations in Greater Dallas. The Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas provided generous funding for the festivities.
Close to 2000 people participated in activities on the JCC campus. The warm, sunny afternoon allowed wonderful outdoor as well as indoor activities. Attendees were fortunate to have authentic Israeli entertainment. Bein Hametarim, a musical ensemble from Akko, our partnership region in Israel, performed on the plaza in front of the J while community members danced, sang and waved flags in time with the music. As people moved to the music, they feasted on falafel and pizza. Activities for the kids included bounce houses, carnival games, arts and crafts, face painting and a petting zoo. All ages walked the Big Map of Israel, put notes into the Western Wall and had their pictures taken by Gladtower Productions with a backdrop of Israel; everyone loved posing in an Israeli army Jeep. Wonderful mitzvah projects as well as learning opportunities were available.
This was an incredible community event from beginning to end. An amazing committee with representatives from all Dallas Jewish organizations was led by Event Chairs Stacey and Doug Baer, Sue Ellen and A.J. Rosmarin and Bonnie and Jeff Whitman. The community thanks the chairs and their committee.
Beth Torah Preschool: Israeli for a day
The children of Congregation Beth Torah Preschool celebrated a spirited schoolwide Yom HaAtzmaut program as they became Israeli in their imaginations. These junior archaeologists went digging for exciting treasures buried in the school playground — glitzy, shiny “historical and ritual” items were found and marveled over. The children dug and dug, putting all their little items in baggies and learning the significance of each treasure. Larger objects were placed near a beautiful representation of the Temple. The ancient Temple seemed really ancient to the youngsters, who typically think being 10 years of age is very old.
To observe the holiday, the children made a great birthday cake for Israel’s birthday. The 4-year-old class painted pillowcases with the Israeli flag and then wore them so they themselves “became” the flag. Swaying in the breeze, over a hundred “flags” sang and danced on the playground.
Esther Cohen, preschool director, said, “All the children experienced and embodied the unique special relationship that we have with the state of Israel. It is vital that this connection be established at a young age and nourished over the years. We at Congregation Beth Torah do our part to see that our children carry the seeds of identification with, and support of, our Jewish homeland. The children love these experiences as they are enriched by them.”
Registration applications for the preschool summer program and for the fall school year are now being accepted. For further information, please contact Esther Cohen at 972-234-1542. Congregation Beth Torah is located at 720 Lookout Drive, Richardson 75080.
Akiba Academy: A parade for all ages
Akiba Academy held a parade and had a blue-and-white spirit day.
The TJP wishes to thank community reporters from Akiba, Beth Torah and the JCC for sending in pictures of their Yom HaAtzmaut celebrations. If you would like us to post your Yom HaAtzmaut photos online, e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Commemorating Yom HaZikaron in Dallas
By Deb Silverthorn
Memorial Day in Israel rings through with a siren. A piercing sound, stopping all at attention, all who knew one or many who gave their lives in wartime and peacetime, in the name of independence and in the name of sustenance, for a land for the Jewish people. On Monday, April 19, a siren rang through Levine Academy in a hall filled with people young and old, Israeli, American and those from other lands, Jews and others, stopping to remember, to dedicate, to commemorate. To memorialize.
The Yom HaZikaron commemoration included readings, songs and prayer from members of Dallas’ Jewish community, as well as the songs and dances of Israel as performed by members of Bein Hametarim, a troupe from Akko, a part of Dallas’ Partnership region in Israel. “Twenty-seven percent of the money raised by the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas’ Annual Campaign is donated to Israel and other overseas countries, with some of the funds used to support medical and cultural projects,” said Meirav Yaaran, senior campaign associate for the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas and director of Café Israel who, in collaboration with Congregation Nishmat Am, sponsored the event.
David Veeder, chair of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas; Congregation Beth Torah’s Rabbi Adam Raskin, president of the Rabbinic Association of Dallas; Congregation Nishmat Am’s Rabbi Yitzchak Cohen and Cantor Ya’akov Cohen; Congregation Beth Torah’s Learning Center Director Ruth Schor and other sabras, now Dallas residents, Rabbi Rivka Arad Anderson, Mali Gariani, Michal Kidron, Israel Osterreicher, Shai Rybak, Assaf Sella and Yaaran brought the meaning and soul, the ruach and memory of the occasion, to light.
“We are assembled together with the nation of Israel and the Jewish people, wherever they may be, to reunite ourselves with the memories, and to express our eternal gratitude to our sons and daughters, the mothers and fathers, to all who gave their lives fighting for the achievement of Israel’s independence and continued existence,” Rabbi Cohen said. “There isn’t a home in Israel without the scars of loss, and tonight we share a collective and personal anguish, mangled with awe and honor.”
“I am thinking about my uncle and I’m thinking about my friends,” said 19-year-old Ariel Osterreicher, tears rolling down his cheeks, after listening to his father Israel lead the mourner’s Kaddish in memory of his own brother Moshe and the thousands of others killed. “It’s an incredible pain, but I remember them every single day.”
“Our goal was to share how we commemorate this important holiday in Israel and to have the Israeli and Jewish community come together,” said Shami Waldman, chair of Café Israel, who read a list of names of those close to Metroplex residents who have been killed through the years, including former Dallas resident, the late Ari Weiss, a former Akiba student and the son of Congregation Tiferet Israel’s former Rabbi Stewart and Susie Weiss. “This was beautiful and honorable to those we remember.”
“From the music to the dance, and the prayers to the core of our beings, this is a night, and these were sacrifices, to always remember,” Yaaran said, referring to the celebration and onset of Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, at the end of the evening. “It is the story of our life and our people to go from sadness to joy.
“The greater Dallas Jewish community has embraced the outreach of the Israeli community — its networking, its talents, it professional contributions and its socialization — and tonight wasn’t just for the Israeli community, it was for our community,” said Yaaran, who thanked Waldman, Café Israel members including the group’s Chair of Volunteers Odeya Zach, Levine Academy’s Esther Jogiel and Wende Weinberg, the Federation’s Deborah Fisher and Gary Weinstein, the JCC’s Laura Seymour and Rachelle Weiss-Crane, and Congregation Nishmat Am’s Mali Gariani and Michal Kidron for their help in coordinating the event.
The 1947–1949 War of Independence. The 1956 Suez War. The 1967 Six-Day War. The 1973 Yom Kippur War. The Lebanese War of 1982 and the Second Lebanese War of 2006. The names of Ron Arad and Gilad Shalit and the thousands who have been captured, tortured and/or killed. Moments to memorialize, thousands of miles away from the action, miles that can’t be counted in the hearts of Jews around the world.