Israel has been a priority for the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia since our 1901 founding — back when the State of Israel was merely a hopeful dream. That’s why, when Israel turned 70 this past May, we weren’t about to just let the moment pass. We hosted a yearlong celebration throughout 2018, packed with countless festivities and Israel engagement opportunities.

Let’s look back on Israel70, our full year of commemorating Israel’s historic milestone.

Wrestling Jerusalem

Israel70 kicked off with a three-week run of actor/playwright Aaron Davidman’s award-winning play “Wrestling Jerusalem,” complete with post-show audience discussions that further explored the multiple perspectives presented onstage.

The U.S.-Israel Relationship: A Conversation with Ambassador Daniel Shapiro

The Honorable Daniel Shapiro, former U.S. Ambassador to Israel during the Obama administration, called on his 20+ years in senior foreign policy and national security positions to give insight into the recent political relationship between the United States and Israel.

My Israel Story

Teaming up with First Person Arts, we hosted storytelling workshops to help participants draw out and craft their personal story about their Israel experiences. We’re looking forward to releasing these amazing stories on social media throughout 2019. Check out the first installment:

 

5-6-70 Israel!

On May 6th, thousands of our Greater Philadelphia community members gathered for the ultimate birthday party to celebrate Israel’s 70th anniversary of independence. The day was packed with cooking demos, wine and olive oil tastings, Israeli dancingGaga courts, Israeli films, art and science exhibits, vendors offering fine crafts and Judaica, local music and the popular Israeli cover band Capaim.

The Quaker City String Band even treated us to a reprisal of their Fiddler on the Roof-inspired number “Fiddling with Tradition,” for which they won second place at the 2018 Mummers Parade.

Israeli Flag Raising Ceremony

On May 14, 1948, Israel declared its independence. To commemorate this important date in Jewish history, on May 14, 2018, our communities came out in droves to see the Israeli flag raised for the first time ever at Philadelphia City Hall.

Humans of Tel Aviv

Partnering with Citizens Diplomacy International, we celebrated Philadelphia’s special sister cities connection to Tel Aviv with a public art exhibit of “Humans of Tel Aviv,” featuring an array of photographs of the residents who make Tel Aviv the vibrant city we know and love.

The exhibition included a special “Pairings on the Parkway,” when members of our communities gathered in Sister Cities Park for food, drinks, dancing and — of course — plenty of Israeli music.

Jewish Philly Podcast

In commemoration of Israel’s 70th, each episode of our brand new Jewish Philly Podcast was packed with interviews, features and stories about Israel, including our special bonus episode featuring our conversation with Israel Gay Youth, the Israeli nonprofit working to create welcoming environments across Israel where teens and young adults can freely express their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Philadelphia Orchestra Tour and Mission

Only three North American orchestras have ever toured Israel, and thanks to a partnership with our Jewish Federation, the Philadelphia Orchestra made their second visit to the country this June. Our patron tour was by their side the whole time, visiting Haifa, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and our Partnership region. Did we mention the last two days was a culinary tour hosted by James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Solomonov?

Hungry for Change: A Summit About American And Israeli Strategies for Food Security, Recovery and Justice

Convening Israel’s and Greater Philadelphia’s leaders in the fields of food security, recovery and justice, our conference introduced community members to all kinds of ways to make an impact and to help ensure that everyone has access to safe and nutritious food.

The Main Event

Wrapping up our yearlong celebration of Israel70, this year’s Main Event celebrated our love for Israel and our long history of supporting our Jewish homeland, with a big Missions reunion and special guest speaker Avi Issacharoff, co-creator of Netflix’s hit show Fauda. Thanks to ticket sales and the generous support of our sponsors, the Main Event raised more than $930,000, which will help our Jewish Federation continue serving vulnerable populations, inspiring community engagement, and supporting Jewish life and learning — locally, in Israel and around the world.

Thank you for helping us Carry the Light this Israel70 year!