“There’s a diaspora of Jewish people across the world, but this ties us together even if we don’t see it every day,” Mayerson JCC Manager of Youth, Family, and Jewish Life Devra Silverman said. “We’re excited to have everyone come out and celebrate Israel at 75.”
Israel at 75 marks 75 years of the founding of the modern State of Israel, and while the Mayerson JCC and the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati are hosting in Cincinnati, this celebration is for everyone. The event will take place at Summit Park on Sunday, April 30 from 2 – 7pm. This year focuses on the diversity within the Israeli society. While most believe the dominant culture in Israel has roots in Central or Eastern Europe, there are actually many different cultures that make up the fabric of Israeli society.
“One of the goals is to highlight these cultures that people aren’t as familiar with,” Jewish Federation of Cincinnati Senior Community Shaliach Yarden Neeman said. “Some people don’t know they exist or the overall unique impact they have on Israeli society.”
Those cultures will include Russian, Ethiopian, Druze, Persian, and North African. A chef from each culture will travel to Cincinnati to create an authentic experience through food and personal stories.
In addition to the Israeli chefs, Israel at 75 will boast exciting activities including face painting, photo booths, crafts, jewelry vendors, trivia games, and more. The celebration will conclude with a performance by popular Israeli drumming group Mayumana (think Blue Man Group).
The event also features interactive workshops that celebrate Israeli art. Mayumana will hold a drumming workshop, where participants will create music with the musicians. Visual artist Keren Anavy will lead people through a workshop that will focus on flowers from the different regions of Israel and allow individuals to contribute to a large community installation while also taking a small piece of art home. Twenty Jewish organizations will also create hands-on activities designed to teach participants about the five Israeli cultures featured in the festival.
“It’s an opportunity to learn about Israel and talk about Israel,” Silverman said. “It can be a controversial topic, so we want to create this safe space to celebrate and to ask questions.”
Of course, this educational experience is not limited to the Jewish community – everyone is welcome to come and learn more about Israel and its unique cultures. Neeman and Silverman want to emphasize that this celebration is truly open to everyone. It is a space where you can have fun while gaining a deeper understanding of Israeli culture.
“It’s a big number – 75!” Silverman says. “It’s extra meaningful and it’s a huge milestone. This is a country that has been fighting to be a country – a real state. It’s a point of connection and we want to celebrate publicly and with everyone.”
While Israel at 75 celebrates Israeli Independence, the week leading up to the holiday is much more solemn and reminds us of our history and how we got here. On Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, The Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center will host a commemoration ceremony at the Mayerson JCC to remember and mourn the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust and to honor the survivors. There will also be a memorial ceremony for Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day, to
honor the fallen soldiers and victims of terror who gave their lives in defense of the State of Israel. “This year, we are bringing new programming to honor these events,” Neeman said. “Memory in the Living Room is a meaningful and intimate way to commemorate Yom HaShoah by listening to stories from Holocaust survivors. Recipe with a Memory will feature recipes from fallen soldiers that you can make at home to create a deeper connection with those lost.”
Information about all the events related to the modern Israeli holidays can be found at MayersonJCC.org/Israel.