Israel’s 65th will draw us all closer

By Simon Rocker, February 21, 2013

Plans are being drawn up for major communal events to mark Israel's 65th birthday in central London and Manchester on June 2.

They would be the biggest public displays of support for Israel since the parades which were staged in the two cities for Israel's 60th birthday five years ago.

Closer to Israel, as the events have been designated, are intended to be celebrations rather than political rallies, explained Shoshana Copeland, events manager of the UJIA, which is co-ordinating plans with the Jewish Leadership Council, Board of Deputies and Community Security Trust.

There will be a street parade in central London, followed by a celebratory finale. The central events will be chaired by Douglas Krikler, former chief executive of the UJIA.

Mr Krikler said: "Closer to Israel will be a fantastic opportunity to show the extent to which Israel remains a central part of our collective communal identity."

Laura Marks, senior vice-president of the Board of Deputies, said: "As well as the central events to bring the whole community together, we are also working in parallel on a grassroots engagement project, which is about bringing communities closer to Israel. Whether you are a synagogue, youth movement, book group or football team, you can do something that will deepen your relationship with Israel."

Although Israel Independence Day falls on Tuesday April 16, it is not feasible to hold a communal event on a Sunday until after Shavuot in mid-May because of the Omer period of semi-mourning, when concerts are prohibited.

Ms Copeland said that a number of dates had been looked at but June 2 was the "best going".

Although the Board of Deputies is one of the promoting organisations, its treasurer Laurence Brass indicated it would not be contributing to the cost.

Judge Brass said that it had been asked to put in £30,000 for the occasion. "It's not because we don't support the idea but we don't have the funds. There are so many Israel organisations in the community which are better funded than we are."

But Board president Vivian Wineman commented: "The money is not in the budget but we are looking for ways to find it."

Last updated: 4:20pm, February 21 2013