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On Monday, May 14th, the date Israel declared independence 70 years ago, the Israeli flag was raised over Philadelphia’s City Hall for the very first time. Hundreds of people from across the region attended the ceremony, which included remarks from Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia Board Chair Susanna Lachs Adler, Mayor Jim Kenney and Congressman Brendan Boyle.

The ceremony featured messages of unity and inclusion. Mayor Kenney reflected on the anti-Semitism experienced by his Jewish neighbors during his childhood and how it shaped his leadership for minority rights. Susanna Lachs Adler ended her remarks by reflecting, “We may have a wide array of views on the state of Israel and what needs to be done. But on this we can all agree: After more than a century of commitment to our 70-year homeland, we remain dedicated to helping Israel to continue to evolve as an inclusive, resilient and peaceful society.”

Finally, as the Perelman Youth Choir led the crowd in singing HaTikvah, the Israeli flag was raised by Mark and Harriet Levin, parents of Philadelphia-native Michael Levin, who as an Israeli soldier was killed in combat in 2006. The flag flew over City Hall for three days and two nights as a proud tribute to the special relationship between the city of Philadelphia and the State of Israel.