European Jewish Communities’ Celebrations of Israel’s Independence Day Marked by Solemnity

Israel’s 22nd Independence Day was marked with solemnity by Jews here and In various European capitals feet night and today. Traditional thanksgiving services were held at the Sephardic Bevis Marks Synagogue, where the sermon was delivered by Chief Rabbi Moses Rosen of Rumania. The British Mizrachi Federation held its traditional Independence Day dinner last night, presided over by Chief Rabbi Emeritus Sir Israel Brodie. The principal speaker was Chief Rabbi Immanuel Jakobovits. Independence Day services were conducted at the Synagogue in Copenhagen by Denmark’s Chief Rabbi, Bent Melchior. He appeared wearing the Israel Defense Force decorations he won as a volunteer in the 1948 war for independence. Italian Jews marked Israel Independence Day at memorial services for fallen soldiers of the Jewish Brigade, which fought with Allied forces in World War II. Ceremonies took place at the Allied cemetery of Pangipane, near Ravenna. The Israeli Ambassador, Emile Najar, attended, as did representatives of various World War II resistance groups.

The strained relations between Israel and France were reflected in the low key observance of Independence Day in Paris today. The Israeli Embassy held its usual “open house” but French government representatives were absent from official ceremonies marking the occasion. For the first time, no major French-Jewish figure addressed the mass meeting of the French Zionist Federation. There was more festivity in Belgium, though the Israeli Embassy in Brussels omitted its official reception this year for budgetary reasons. One Israel Independence Day tradition was observed in the Belgian capital. The centuries-old statue of Mannekin Pis–the boy urinating–proudly wore Its kibbutznik suit and hat today. In Antwerp, some 2000 persons attended an Israel Independence Day rally which also marked the 50th anniversary of the Karen Hayesod, the Zionist movement’s fund-raising arm. Israel’s Police Minister, Shlomo Hillel, on a visit to Belgium, met with 20 Journalists in Brussels yesterday. He dismissed a claim by President Gamal Abdel Nasser, of Egypt, that Israel wants to extend its territory to the Persian Gulf as “a tale out of the Arabian Nights.” He said Nasser wanted to frighten the oil producing Arab countries into continuing to finance his war of attrition against Israel.

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