LOS ANGELES, CA – More than 15,000 people are expected to gather at the Celebrate Israel Festival, the largest annual Jewish happening in North America, on Sunday, May 15, to celebrate the State of Israel’s 68th Independence Day from 11am – 6pm, with a packed lineup of major musicians, unique cultural attractions and creative interactive activities. The day will start with a 1-mile “Celebrate Israel Walk” with StandWithUs to show solidarity and support for the State of Israel, followed by big-name performances including headliner Rita, and pavilions showcasing “Israel: A Mosaic of Jewish Cultures” throughout the Park.
Festival goers will have the opportunity to take the first look at the “75 Years to Bob Dylan” exhibit scheduled to open in Israel on May 20th; one of many exhibits that will be showcased at this year’s festival. At 3:15 p.m. Tiger Squadron fly over will kick-off the official ceremony with elected officials hosted by Mike Burstyn.
The event’s significant growth over recent years reflects the Israeli-American community’s increasing public activism and cohesion. The Los Angeles chapter of the Israeli-American Council (IAC), the preeminent Israeli-American organization nationwide, is organizing Celebrate Israel, which will take place at the Cheviot Hills Recreation Center, L.A., from 11 a.m. through 6 p.m.
The festivities will start at 10:00 a.m. with the StandWithUs “Salute to Israel Walk in Blue & White” to show the community’s solidarity with Israel. Israeli musical superstars Rita and other musical guests from Israel will perform throughout the day. One of the highlights will be the Tiger Squadron formation flyover at 3:15 p.m. kicking off the official ceremony with local dignitaries hosted by Israeli-American actor Mike Burstyn. The 20 somethings will enjoy #MeetMeAtTheBar – the coolest spot at the festival with a great view of center stage. Kids and families can enjoy a wide range of free attractions, hands-on crafts, amusement rides and a kid’s stage with live performances throughout the day.
“We were incredibly lucky to grow up in a place like Israel – surrounded by our history, our heritage and a rich and diverse culture. Now that we live here, we want our fellow Americans who have embraced us so warmly to share in the experience of all the beauty that is the modern day miracle called Israel. This one-day festival is the closest you can come to truly being there,” said Naty Saidoff, the visionary and founder of the original Celebrate Israel festival.
The festival’s theme “Israel: A Mosaic of Jewish Cultures” will give festival goers the opportunity to learn, experience and see the diverse tapestry of the Jewish ethnicities by traveling through the various pavilions throughout the festival. Stop by the Moroccan Pavilion for cultural art and a traditional Henna ceremony on your way to the Middle Eastern Pavilion where you can make your own Persian tea and tea light candle. At the Ethiopian Pavilion learn how to make ethnic jewelry and take part in an African drum circle. Do you know what a Sussita is? At the Israeli-American Pavilion you can see the first (and only) Israeli manufactured car, the Sussita that will be on display. Stop by to learn about The Sussita Project, where kids can make their own “Made in Israel” prototype.
The Museum of the Jewish People opens its doors at the festival giving families the opportunity to add a “branch” to the genealogy database of Jewish history, the largest of its kind. Beit Hatfutzot will be screening several films throughout the day including one about synagogues around the globe. In addition, the Museum will display for the first time “75 Years to Bob Dylan” exhibit at the festival prior to the opening date in Israel on May 20th. The exhibit shows the singer and songwriter’s life, his legacy and connection to his roots and the State of Israel.
Celebrate Israel will offer a colorful open-air World Market featuring 13 artists from Israel and local artists selling clothing, jewelry, Judaica, paintings, pottery, sculptures, home goods and gifts. Throughout the festival, participants will be able to sample a taste of popular Israeli cuisine, with a Glatt-kosher menu including barbeque, hummus, salads, watermelon and more.
This year’s festival will feature several cultural photography exhibits. Stop by the bar to see the gallery of the winning entries from the Instagram competition: “Faces of Israel” under the hashtag #Israel24Seven, in partnership with @instaglobal_israel_. The international competition puts the lens on Israel’s many cultures and colors. At the Ethiopian Pavilion, the photography exhibit “From Hope to Hope” by Irene Fertik documents the transition of Ethiopian life from the old ways to the new and their incredible vibrant story and community. Jimenah will display an array of photographs of the Middle Eastern traditions and cultures with the exhibit “The Jewish Refugees From Arab Lands.” In the Moroccan Pavilion festival goers can enjoy the exquisite photography of Rose-Lynn Fisher titled “Jewish Heritage in Morocco: Images from the late ’90s.”
The Los Angeles IAC Celebrate Israel Festival, the original location for Celebrate Israel, is part of a national series of IAC Celebrate Israel Festivals, which will take place throughout May and are expected to draw more than 50,000 people in Florida, Las Vegas, New York , New Jersey and Boston.