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United Synagogue plans separate Israel celebration

There is also concern that sponsors may choose to back only one major celebration next May, leaving rival festivities potentially short of funds.

    (Getty)

    Cross-communal plans for the celebration of Israel’s 70th birthday next May have been called into question after the United Synagogue announced it would be hosting its own separate event at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

    The US said the gala evening on May 24, a month after the Hebrew date anniversary, would feature Israeli and British artists from across the musical spectrum and that it would “allow people to share their love for Israel on the most famous stage in the world.”

    But the event appeared to clash with plans for a event organised by the Jewish Leadership Council and backed by other communal organisations.

    Planning meetings involving the JLC, the Reform Movement, UJIA, the Board of Deputies, and the US have already taken place. One communal figure said the US had tried to “usurp the agenda” by announcing their own event.  

    There is also concern that sponsors may choose to back only one major celebration next May, leaving rival festivities potentially short of funds.

    In a statement on Wednesday, United Synagogue president Michael Goldstein said: “Our Royal Albert Hall event has been in planning since the summer with our plans of course being shared with a number of organisations, including the JLC and the Board of Deputies. 

    “The date of this event has been set for May 24, over a month after the date of Yom Ha’atzmaut, so as to avoid any possible clash.

    “We look forward to working with a number of partners on the Royal Albert Hall event, just as we anticipate working hard in support of the cross-communal celebration of Yom Ha’atzmaut.”

    In an interview with the JC last month Jonathan Goldstein, chair of the JLC, said he hoped to announce plans for “a big shebang” to mark Israel’s 70th birthday next year soon.

    The JLC is believed to have wanted to have the event to have a “less elitist” feel than some of this year’s Balfour centenary commemorations — and to reflect all shades of the Jewish religious  spectrum .

    A spokesman for the Reform Movement said they were unaware of the US event and added:“Reform Judaism is happy to engage with the cross-communal initiative celebrating Israel’s 70th.”

    The JLC and the Board did not respond to a request for comment.

    Israel was founded on May 14 1948 but the country will celebrate its 70th anniversary according to the Hebrew calender, on April 18-19.

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