Manchester united’s class of 67


In the wake of the Gaza conflict, "Manchester Jewry has come together to support Israel through some hard, hard times," explained Melissa Chapman, one of the organisers of the main Manchester Yom Ha'atzmaut event. "So we wanted this to be a proper celebration - and I think we succeeded."

To meet the goal, the programme had a more informal feel than in previous years, a factor in attracting 1,000 party people and volunteers. There were varied outdoor activities for children in the early evening sunshine - including games linked to places in Israel - and music and dancing for the older guests as the party got into full swing.

Stalls in the shuk area covered all the food bases and a range of local organisations and kosher retailers promoted their wares.

"We've been trying to engage the community to show pride in Israel," added Ms Chapman, a Jewish Volunteering Network member, who ran the event with the Jewish Agency's Eitan Sadeh and Hila Kaye, an events specialist for Israeli charities. "We also wanted to honour some of our community's unsung heroes."

To this end, a torch-lighting ceremony honoured the contributions of people such as Tracy and Tony Levene, who set up the Duchenne Now charity, dedicated to funding research and treatments for Duchenne's muscular dystrophy. Others honoured included Chaim Ferster, a "truly inspiring" Holocaust survivor; Arron Gabel, nominated by King David High for his kindness to others; and Mark Saperia, who volunteers five days a week at Allingham House in Altrincham, comforting and supporting residents with dementia.

Another recognised was Langdon community member Hannah Levy. Despite having Down's Syndrome, she communicates well and volunteers.

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