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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2018 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


 

April 20, 2018  RSS feed
Front Page

Text: T T T

Rain can’t dampen spirits for Israel’s 70th birthday

By THAIS LEON-MILLER Jewish Press


Participants wave Israeli flags and dance the hora during the Israel Independence Day celebration at the Pinewood Cultural Park in Largo. Participants wave Israeli flags and dance the hora during the Israel Independence Day celebration at the Pinewood Cultural Park in Largo. Not even a tornado watch could keep away the approximately 300 attendees of the Jewish Federation of Pinellas and Pasco Counties’ Israel Independence celebration Sunday, April 15 in Largo.

Community members of all ages braved the wind and rain to take silly photos in front of a royal blue, crushed velvet backdrop and watch youngsters get their faces painted and jump around in a bounce house that filled the entirety of one of the rooms in the main gallery of the Pinewood Cultural Park. Falafel, hummus and Israeli salad were served inside while hot dogs and chips were available outside. The deejay played music while children ran around with blue and white balloon animals and Israeli flags.

There was fun and games, but there was also a more somber tone of discussion. Former Defense Department official Eric Lynn spoke about the Israeli rocket defense system, the Iron Dome, and his part in making sure the program got off the ground under the Obama administration.


Photographer Erez Kaganovitz speaks to an audience about his photo exhibit, “Humans of Tel Aviv,” inside the Pinewood Cultural Park in Largo. Photographer Erez Kaganovitz speaks to an audience about his photo exhibit, “Humans of Tel Aviv,” inside the Pinewood Cultural Park in Largo. Author Lynda Lippman-Lockhart discussed her book, The Laundry Room, a historical novel that describes the courage of 45 young people who managed to manufacture the bullets that helped Israel become an independent state, all while under the noses of British officers.

“They were pressing and washing British uniforms while creating ammunition underneath,” said Lippman-Lockhart. “If there was ever a story about being creative and courageous … these people are my heroes. Without them and without those 9-mm bullets, there would be no Israel today.”


Pinellas/ Pasco Jewish Federation staffer Diana Morin (left) and Temple B'nai Israel Director of Engagement Barbara Bloom handle registration at the Israel Independence Day event. The federation sponsored the festivities. Pinellas/ Pasco Jewish Federation staffer Diana Morin (left) and Temple B'nai Israel Director of Engagement Barbara Bloom handle registration at the Israel Independence Day event. The federation sponsored the festivities. The work of photographer Erez Kaganovitz brought event guests from the stories of Israelis past to Israelis present. Kaganovitz’s Humans of Tel Aviv exhibit mirrors the globally popular Humans of New York series. In each vignette, everyday people are photo subjects and the viewers gets small glimpses into their life with a short narrative.

Kaganovitz’ Humans of Tel Aviv showed the range of people and personalities that coexist in Tel Aviv and, perhaps unintentionally, compares and contrasts the similarities and differences of U.S. and Israeli culture. One of the photos is of a man dressed in drag during a pride parade in Tel Aviv. Twenty years ago you could be openly gay in the Israeli military and no one would make a fuss about it, said the photographer.


Harvey Bailin writes a letter to an Israeli soldier during the celebration of Israel’s 70th anniversary of its founding. Harvey Bailin writes a letter to an Israeli soldier during the celebration of Israel’s 70th anniversary of its founding. His photo series, started in 2012, reaches 500,000 people around the world each month through his website.

“You don’t need to be a great photographer,” said Kaganovitz. “You just need to know your neighbors. It doesn’t matter if you are Jewish, it doesn’t matter if you are Muslim, it doesn’t matter if you are Christian. Love is the most important thing.”

Even as the rain poured heavily outside, inside the audience participated in a ceremony and sing-along. Taking part were Rabbis Gary Klein of Temple Ahavat Shalom and Ed Rosenthal of the Hillels of the Florida Suncoast, cantorial soloist Laura Berkson of Temple B’nai Israel and Cantor Jonathan Schultz of Congregation B’nai Israel. Rabbi Danielle Upbin accompanied by guitarist Blake Lenett and drummer Alan Feinman, all of Congregation Beth Shalom in Clearwater, also entertained.


Children brave the rains outside to pickup hot dogs and chips from Joel Goetz of Jo-El’s Delicatessen & Marketplace during the Israel Independence Day event on Sunday, April 15. Most of the actvities were moved inside due to the inclement weather. Children brave the rains outside to pickup hot dogs and chips from Joel Goetz of Jo-El’s Delicatessen & Marketplace during the Israel Independence Day event on Sunday, April 15. Most of the actvities were moved inside due to the inclement weather. The day finished with a lively rendition of “Hava Nagila” by Bash Entertainment as celebrants circled the room, dancing the hora.

The rain began to let up just as the event came to a close.


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