Strong state of Independence

April 30, 2009

More than 1,000 people attended a Bnei Akiva-organised Yom Hazikaron and Independence Day event at Finchley Synagogue on Tuesday at which the Chief Rabbi, Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor and MP Michael Gove were among the speakers.

“It was an inspiring sight to see so many people celebrating Israel,” said Bnei Akiva secretary Ani Broza. “For 70 years Bnei Akiva has stood shoulder to shoulder with Israel and this was another demonstration of the power of youth and what they can achieve.”

Former Israeli Cabinet minister Rabbi Michael Melchior and Bicom chief executive Lorna Fitzsimons were the stars of an ambitious Yom Ha’atzmaut Shabbaton at the Yeshurun Synagogue in south Manchester.

Over 350 members were at the event, incorporating a community lunch at which Rabbi Melchior highlighted his work against Islamophobia and antisemitism alongside Islamic leaders in Israel. Earning a standing ovation for her pro-Israel sentiments, Ms Fitzsimons warned that unflattering Jewish comments about Muslims weakened objections to anti-Jewish statements.

Rabbi Melchior also visited Manchester’s King David campus, Leeds and Cambridge during his UK visit.

Independence Day was a bittersweet occasion in Leeds as the 500 revellers watched a farewell video to Israeli emissary Asaf Segev, who will be returning to Israel after a three-year tenure. Israeli group Alhabama performed at the party and one of its members, 18-year-old Daniel Besso, said: “The community opened their hearts as well as their homes to us.”

West London Synagogue combined its Independence Day event with an early celebration of the Tel Aviv centenary. Streets of Tel Aviv was the theme of the night and each table at the community’s Stern Hall had a street sign. Place mats showed the locations and some of the history.

Around 120 people from across the community were at the Cardiff celebrations at the United Synagogue where a quiz was chaired by Philip Kaye. In Southend, a crowd of 140 raised over £1,500 for Israeli War Disabled. Two hundred turned out for the Liverpool event at Harold House where Sonia Strong spoke about the early days of Tel Aviv.

Robert Speker and Aya Baruch provided the musical entertainment for the 100 guests at the Newcastle party. David Seidel and Nick Werner organised an event for the Brighton, Hastings, Eastbourne and Worthing communities at which Israeli studies professor Colin Shindler was guest speaker. There were Bournemouth parties at the Reform and Orthodox congregations.

To mark the launch of bmi’s twice-daily flights to Tel Aviv, the airline sponsored Yom Ha’atzmaut bagel breakfasts at London synagogues.

Last updated: 12:17pm, April 30 2009