Come dancing at Kinloss


Finchley Synagogue was a sea of blue and white as a record 1,400 guests attended Bnei Akiva's Yom Ha'atzmaut party. Home Secretary Theresa May and Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis were among the crowd for the Kinloss event, which also featured a Yom Hazikaron service extended to incorporate victims of terror.

Ofer Shachar, 26 - one of a group brought over by the One Family charity - lit a candle in memory of his brother, Ort, who was killed on military duty during the second Lebanon war in 2006.

"He died destroying a Hizbollah stronghold," Mr Shachar said. Under heavy rocket fire, "he had to get his upper body out of the vehicle to shoot back and got hit by shrapnel. He died immediately from the impact. It feels important to me that I come here and tell his story and see that it is important to people."

Mr Shachar added that friends still came together to remember Ort on Yom Hazikaron. "We laugh, cry and hear new things about him - even after nine years. I'm missing out on that [by being in the UK], but it feels great to see so many people celebrate Israel. Their support is very special."

Addressing guests, Mrs May said that modern Israel represented the fulfilment of many decades of struggle. "But the older members of the congregation will tell you 67 is still a very youthful age.

"As we celebrate and remember those who have fought so hard for it, I want to pay tribute to what you do here in Britain.

"To those who volunteer in the community, you help to make this country what it is."

For student Zara Bamberg, 21, it was a first time at such an event. "I love the atmosphere," she said. As well as the celebratory aspect, "it is important to commemorate the soldiers and what they do."

Sophie Corper, 18, from Bushey, enjoyed the food, music and dancing. "And everyone is here for the same reason, which is important."

For the Bnei Akiva organisers, Yehudah Fink, 22, reflected: "It is the closest I'll get to being in Israel tonight and that is something only BA can provide. This is an amazing event from start to finish."

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