by Deborah Shatz
(EJNews) – Yom Ha’atzmaut was celebrated in a truly joyful way once again in Edmonton. The Jewish Federation of Edmonton sponsored event was held at the Beth Israel Synagogue on May 2, 2017 in the beautifully decorated ballroom – perfect for a family friendly party in honour of Israel’s Independence Day. The party was co-hosted by Beth Shalom Synagogue, Jewish National Fund (Edmonton) and Beth Israel.
The event got off to a great start with a delicious Middle Eastern buffet, catered by Eddie and Susan Yedgarova, that included falafel, hummus, baba ganoush, roasted eggplant, fries and a variety of salads.
The highlight of the evening was the outstanding music and incredible ruach provided by Soulfarm – a popular American Jewish rock band based in New York City. Led by Grammy Award winner lead guitarist C Lanzbom and lead singer Noah Solomon, with Mitch Friedman on bass and Ben Antelis on drums, the group really rocked the BI stage. The music was so danceable it had a pied piper effect on all the children in attendance who rushed to the dance floor in delight. At the same time music lovers in the audience were wowed by some amazing guitar licks and an eclectic combination of rock, folk, bluegrass and Israeli music.
Before the dance party got underway, Jewish Federation of Edmonton presented an inclusive program to celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut. Emcee Alex Goldberg welcomed the crowd and thanked everyone for coming out to celebrate Israel’s 69th anniversary since statehood.
Hatikvah and O’Canada were led by Dorit Kosmin accompanied by Ben Ragosin and the two later returned to the stage and performed a delightful selection of songs with a group of students from the Talmud Torah School. The evening progressed with some comments from JFed President Ellery Lew followed by JFEd CEO Debby Shoctor who read a statement from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The PM’s statement read, “Canada was one of the first countries to officially recognize Israel, and we are proud to call Israel our partner and call Israelis our friends.
“Canada and Israel are closely linked in heart and in mind by common democratic values and close people-to-people connections. These provide the foundation of an expanding bilateral relationship, which includes ongoing efforts to promote peace and stability in the Middle East.
“Today, while we celebrate Israel’s independence, we also reaffirm our commitment to fight anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. Israel and its people continue to face threats throughout the world, including here in Canada. We stand on guard against a resurgence of anti-Semitism, hate, and discrimination in all its forms.
“On this Independence Day, I am proud to renew Canada’s commitment to a safe and secure homeland for the Jewish people, and to a lasting peace between all peoples in the Middle East.
“On behalf of the Government of Canada, Sophie and I wish everyone celebrating Israel Independence Day a Yom Ha’atzmaut Sameach.
The State of Israel launched its 69th Independence Day celebrations with a spectacular torch-lighting ceremony on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem focusing on key individuals who through their actions and spirit contribute to the building, prosperity and beauty of Jerusalem. Following Israel’s lead, the Edmonton Jewish Community also featured a torch lighting ceremony, for the second year, to honour individuals and groups that are making a positive difference in our community.
JFed’s Director of Programming Orna Richter led the ceremony introducing each of the torch lighters and the group they represented. The groups honoured this year included Talmud Torah School, Maccabi athletes, Camp BB-Riback, BBYO, NCSY, Hillel, JCore, Aviv Dancers, Jewish National Fund, CHW, OPH, National Council of Jewish Women, Jewish Seniors Centre, Beth Israel, Beth Shalom, Temple Beth Ora, Jewish Family Services, CJPACC, JAHSENA, Chevra Kadisha, Free Loan Society, Edmonton Jewish Community Charitable Foundation and the Jewish Federation of Edmonton. The individuals representing these groups were lauded for their dedication and have all been instrumental in building a vibrant Jewish community in Edmonton.
Before concluding the formal part of the ceremony, Orna thanked the event sponsors, event emcee Alex Goldberg and the hard-working committee of volunteers who organized every detail of the Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration. She presented a bouquet of flowers to the event chairperson Yaara Shabtai as a show of appreciation to the entire committee – Ben Ragosin, Eleanor Millar, Lili Chernomordin, Sahar Gasman and Shajar Gleiser.
Then the music started and the dancing and schmoozing began!
Enjoy our photo gallery: