By Stephen E. Lipken
Over 3,200 people from the Westchester Jewish community and surrounding areas celebrated “Israel@70,” hosted at Schechter Westchester, Hartsdale on Sunday, April 15.
Activities included the presentation by JNF of Yityish Tity Aynaw, “Miss Israel 2013;” cooking demonstration by celebrity Israeli Chef Gil Hovav; and performances by Westchester Day School Choir; Westchester Torah Academy Choir; Beatboxer/Body Percussionist Michael Feigenbaum; Israeli dancing; an Israeli Air Force Drone Pilot Course by SWAN Kids and FIDF Musical Ensemble.
The Program also featured educational speakers from ADL, StandWithUs and Innovation: Africa.
“We had a massive uptick in anti-Semitism here in New York,” ADL Regional Director
Evan Bernstein observed. “There was a 100% increase in anti-Semitic incidents in grades K though 12, a 130% increase on college campuses. There was a 90% increase in anti-Semitic incidents in New York between 2016 and 2017.
“What can we do? Support Israel. Talk about its right to exist. Critique Israel but in a civilized discourse. We have to stand up and involve our elected officials,” Bernstein stressed.
“We can give you a script that tells what you can say to them (email@example.com).”
StandWithUs Executive Director Shahar Azani said that he found out from the Israel Consulate General in San Francisco that there was an exhibit at the Alaska Jewish Museum, Anchorage, “On the Wings of Eagles: Alaska’s Contribution to Operation Magic Carpet,” commemorating the evacuation of Yemenite Jews from Aden to Tel Aviv in 1949-1950, on Alaska Airlines DC-4 and C-46 aircraft, with seats gutted to hold more people.
Azani visited the museum and later met Elgen Long, 91 the last surviving pilot. Azani noted that his grandparents and extended family were Yemenite Jews brought to Israel.
Following Azani, Sivan Ya’ari, Founder and CEO, “Innovation: Africa,” described how Israeli solar technology powers drills to find water plus utilize drip irrigation in famine-starved Uganda.
A notable crafts display was Yaron Bob’s “S’derot Roses,” sculpted from Kassam rocket fragments and Mezuzahs made from Iron Dome missile remnants, proceeds funding bomb shelters and treatment for PTSD Israeli soldiers (rocketsintoroses.com; yaroniron.com).
The fun filled event was sponsored by AIPAC; American Joint Distribution Committee (JDC); Anti-Defamation League (ADL); AJC Westchester/Fairfield; Friends of Israel Defense Forces (FIDF); Beth El Day Camp and Nursery School, New Rochelle; Israel Bonds; Jewish National Fund (JNF); Lisa and Michael Leffell Family Foundation; StandWithUs; Tel Aviv Foundation; UJA Federation NY and Westchester Jewish Council (WJC).
Congressman Eliot Engel attended the Westchester Celebrates Israel @70 event sponsored by the Westchester Jewish Council on April 15. Engel spoke at the event about the unbreakable bond between the United States and Israel.