NEW YORK (Apr. 20)
President Kennedy congratulated Israel today on its celebration of the 13th anniversary of its independence. Mr. Kennedy’s message, sent to Israel’s President Ben-Zvi, was read on New York City Hall steps today by Abe Stark, president of the New York city council, as part of New York City’s official celebration of the anniversary. Seven thousand people gathered at City Hall plaza to participate in the ceremonies.
In his message, President Kennedy said: “I know that this 13th anniversary of Israel’s independence, the year of coming of age, is of particular importance to many in Israel. The occasion serves to highlight the remarkable progress made in the short span of Israel’s existence. I am greatly pleased to send wishes and congratulations to Your Excellency and to the people of Israel as well as my own personal regards.”
Representatives of the Protestant and Catholic churches participated in the ceremony at City Hall at which a special proclamation issued by Mayor Robert Wagner declaring today as New York’s official “Israel Independence Day” was read. A special prayer was delivered by the Rev. Dan M. Potter, executive director of the Protestant Council of the City of New York, and the benediction was read by the Very Rev. Msgr. Timothy J. Flynn, representing the Catholic Archdiocese of New York.
Mr. Abe Stark, president of the City Council of New York, delivered the keynote address. The Jewish War Veterans of the United States as well as other veterans organizations representing the Police and Fire Departments of the City of New York, staged an impressive massing of colors which included the flags of the United States, Israel and the United Nations.
Dr. Binyamin Eliav, Israel’s Consul General, after reading a message from Prime Minister Ben-Gurion to Mayor Wagner, told the gathering of Israel’s appreciation of the “unbreakable ties which bind together the people of New York with the citizens of Israel.”
Israel’s anniversary was also celebrated at the United Nations, where Michael S. Comay, the head of Israel’s delegation, was host to diplomats, leading members of the UN Secretariat and prominent personalities invited to a special gala event celebrating Israel’s Independence Day. At the same time, Dr. Eliav was host to several hundred members of the Israeli colony in New York and leaders of the Jewish community in New York at an Independence Day party held tonight at the Israeli consulate-general.
Israel’s Independence Anniversary was hailed by Joseph Meyerhoff, general chairman of the United Jewish Appeal, who declared that American Jews “have been proud to be partners of Israel’s people in rescuing nearly a million Jews and putting them on the road to rehabilitation.” At the same time, Rabbi Herbert A. Friedman, UJA executive vice-chairman, said today in a message to the American Jewish community: “Israel’s Bar Mitzvah provides an opportunity for us to measure our own stature as well as that of the young nation which has grown to the threshold of maturity.” Praising the development, maturity and responsibility of the American Jewish community, he added: “It is our own Bar Mitzvah as well as Israel’s.”