World Jews Celebrate Israel’s Birthday with Bnei Akiva

Bnei Akiva emissaries around the world conducted celebrations for Israel’s Independence Day. INN brings you some of their original ideas.

By Elad Benari, www.IsraelNationalNews.com 

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Israel News photo: Bnei Akiva

Approximately 200 Bnei Akiva emissaries in 30 countries around the world produced and organized events in honor of Israel’s 63rd Independence Day which was celebrated on Tuesday.

Here is a short summary of how the Jewish communities around the world celebrated Israel’s Independence Day:

Chicago The traditional Independence Day event at Bnei Akiva of Chicago was attended by over 500 people. This year’s event was sports-related and marked Israel’s great achievements in sports. Part of the celebration included the screening of a special video greeting to all the children in Chicago, which was recorded by the players and coaches of Israel’s youth soccer team. In addition, the children of the Jewish community in Chicago received a personal invitation to join the Israeli national team for one day.

Sydney, Australia On Independence Day, students in local Jewish schools gathered for an afternoon ceremony in which they viewed Israeli technological inventions. Towards evening, their families joined them and everyone participated in the Live Hatikvah project, which is broadcast live around the world and in which Jewish communities around the world join together to sing Israel’s national anthem.

“Thanks to the Bnei Akiva emissaries in Sydney, this is the first year in which Independence Day was not celebrated on a Sunday, but on the actual day on which it is celebrated,” said Moriah Holtz, a Bnei Akiva emissary.

Melbourne, Australia Bnei Akiva of Melbourne came up this year with an original and creative idea to promote Israel’s Independence Day. The project was entitled ‘The great Facebook advocacy challenge’ and it involved a competition between four groups consisting of ninth and tenth grade students. As part of the competition, each group opened a Facebook page aimed at promoting Israel, and promoted it among members of the Jewish community, both locally and worldwide. Each Facebook page had an original name and look to it, and the students produced videos, created posters and more. The group whose page achieved the most likes won first place.

Auckland, New Zealand The Independence Day celebrations in Auckland began last Saturday with an Israeli-style Kiddush at the local synagogue, followed by a lesson on “what it means to be a Jewish state” conducted by the local Bnei Akiva emissaries. On the eve of Independence Day, a special prayer service took place at the synagogue, followed by a barbecue for Jewish youth at the home of the Bnei Akiva emissaries.

San Francisco The Hebrew Academy in San Francisco decided to organize an original Independence Day party this year. The Bnei Akiva emissaries taught the students some Israeli folk dancing, and then held a competition between the groups. The group who danced the best won falafel and shawarma. Those who did not win the contest had to settle just for falafel.

Moshe Ziskind, the local Bnei Akiva emissary noted that normally one is unable to purchase kosher falafel or shawarma in San Francisco, and as such the enthusiasm among the students was great.

Teaneck, New Jersey In honor of Independence Day, the Bnei Akiva emissaries in Teaneck, New Jersey sent a  letter to the members of the community in which they included a special gift in the form of a car magnet with the words “I love Israel” on it. The magnet was also distributed in the synagogues in the city.

“People were really enthusiastic about the idea and you could say that you can now see many cars with this magnet throughout New Jersey,” said local Bnei Akiva emissary Liad Zimmerman.

Sao Paulo, Brazil For the third year in a row, the Bnei Akiva branch in Sao Paulo held a community prayer service and ceremony for Independence Day. More than 400 people attended the event, including members of the community, the Consulate General of Israel, the Jewish Agency, and the Jewish National Fund.

Vienna, Austria The Judenplatz Square in downtown Vienna was covered with white and blue flags, balloons and other decorations. About 300 people attended the celebration in the square, which was organized by the Bnei Akiva emissaries. Among the attractions were a performance stage, shawarma stand, a stand in which identity cards for children were made, karaoke, and trivia contests along with new and old Israeli songs.

Buenos Aires, Argentina Students in the Talpiot preschool in Buenos Aires drew pictures and created greeting cards which were sent to Israeli children, while an Israeli kindergarten sent video greetings for the students of Argentina. A special Israel Day was held in the local day school, and began with a bus trip along the main Jewish streets in the city. Bnei Akiva emissaries distributed to the students Israeli flags and copies of the prayer for the welfare of the State of Israe. The children then enjoyed an Israeli breakfast and special activities. The day concluded with the showing of a video which included Israeli pictures and poems, as well as the greetings from friends in Israel.

Stars come out to toast Israel’s birthday

Celebrities including SEAL, WARREN BEATTY, ANNETTE BENING and SERENA WILLIAMS came out to help movie producer ARNON MILCHAN celebrate the 60th anniversary of Israel.

The Hollywood titan, who financed hit films including Pretty Woman and L.A. Confidential, called upon his showbiz pals on Thursday night (18Jul08) to toast the landmark celebrations of Israel as an independent state.

The bash, held at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles, also acted as an awards ceremony – at which Israeli-born Milchan was presented with a lifetime achievement award from Israeli pro-democracy group Citizens’ Empowerment Center.

Tennis ace Williams, whose Puma endorsement deal was brokered by Milchan, took to the stage to thank the producer, telling guests, “He was one of the people who always believed in me.”