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Across the U.S. and Canada Hundreds of Thousands of Jews, Non-jews Say Shalom to Israel

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Americans and Canadians of all faiths honored Israel yesterday and Sunday on a scale unmatched by any tribute they have paid another country. A survey by the American Committee for Israel’s 25th Anniversary Celebration which is headed by Jacob Stein showed that more than 300 cities in this country and Canada marked the event by staging mass rallies, organizing Israel Weeks, conducting Salute to Israel parades and holding educational and cultural events.

Stein expressed the view that “underlying the warmth with which Americans in general hailed the young State is their recognition that Israel has made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of the same ideals of freedom, self-reliance and democracy which are at the heart of the American credo.”

In Los Angeles an estimated 100,000 people participated in a combined Salute to Israel Parade and street fair sponsored by the Jewish Youth and Young Adults Council. Preceding the celebration there was a 10-minute observance of Yom Hazikaron (Israel’s Memorial Day). A siren was then sounded and the day-long festivities began with an address by Yaakov Aviad, the Israeli Consul General in Los Angeles.

In Boston, some 100,000 spectators joined approximately 4000 youthful marchers at the Fourth Annual Salute to Israel Parade. This year’s theme highlighted their exhilaration: “Israel – 25 Years: The Promise – The Accomplishment – The Future.” Parade participants were from more than 75 schools and Jewish organizations in the Metropolitan Boston area. Senators Edward Kennedy and Edward Brooke were special guests at a community-wide celebration in Boston’s Music Hall.

Detroit built its anniversary celebration around an Israel trade fair and art exhibit week ending May 13. Several morning sessions at the fair include a mini-economic conference to consider Israel’s toy, hardware and food products and the country’s investment opportunities. Evenings are devoted to films and entertainment by Israeli artists. On Thursday, a number of organizations, including Hadassah, Pioneer Women and ORT, will present programs depicting the work these organizations do in Israel.

In Syracuse, NY, the world premiere performance of a cantata, “Prophecy and Fulfillment,” highlighted the community’s celebration rally in Temple Adath Yeshurun. The cantata, written by Stuart Raleigh, a Syracuse University School of Music composer, was especially commissioned for this occasion. It is based on the prophetic writings from the Bible, the poetry of David Markish, and excerpts from Israel’s Declaration of Independence. The cantata was made possible through the joint sponsorship of the Syracuse Jewish Welfare Federation, the Department of Ethnic Arts of Temple Adath Yeshurun, with the assistance of the New York State Council on the Arts.

A REPLAY OF THE EXODUS STORY

In Montreal, more than 5000 people gathered on top of Mt. Royal overlooking the city. The rally climaxed a day-long cluster of events throughout the city that were coordinated by the Canadian Zionist Federation. Celebrations began with a 25-mile marathon run by a group of 200 Jewish athletes. Throughout the day there was dancing in the streets as Israeli music blared through loudspeakers. Throngs stood silently and attentively listening to Israeli Premier Golda Meir’s greeting on loudspeakers that carried her message of solidarity with world Jewry through telephone hookups from Jerusalem.

David Hall, Governor of Oklahoma, issued a proclamation announcing that May 6 would begin Israel’s 25th Anniversary Week and bidding “all my fellow citizens (to) join in this historic celebration. Hall will be a guest at the Tulsa Jewish community celebration of Israel’s 25th anniversary May 13.

Some 5000 people participated in a Salute to Israel Parade in Philadelphia. The festive mood was evident as the marchers gathered in Independence Square where they applauded Sen. Richard Schweiker when he declared that the emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union “is a modern day replay of the exodus story in the Bible.” The Republican lawmaker said that the emigration “underlines why there must be a free Israel today to provide a refuge for these oppressed people.” Schweiker, a sponsor of the Jackson Amendment, also reaffirmed his commitment “to halt the inhuman treatment” of Jews in Iraq and Syria.

Close to 5000 people gathered at the Arie Crown Theater at McCormack Place On-The-Lake in Chicago to listen to a special anniversary address by Gen. Aharon Yariv, advisor to Israeli Premier Golda Meir. The community-wide program which featured Israeli entertainment was coordinated by the Chicago Zionist Federation and the Public Affairs Committee of the Jewish National Fund.

Cleveland marked Israel’s 25th anniversary by dedicating the Hebrew Cultural Gardens in the city’s main public park. The mayor and other local dignitaries participated in the event which included a reading of Israel’s Declaration of Independence. On May 13 some 3000 persons are expected in the Cleveland Music Hall where an original “Israel 25″ show written especially for the occasion, along with a musical cantata and Israeli folk dancing, will be presented.

DEEP KINSHIP WITH ISRAEL

In New York, a special exhibit of Israeli crafts will be held through June to commemorate and celebrate Israel’s silver anniversary. The exhibit, through the courtesy of the Israeli Arts Center of the America-Israel Cultural Foundation, will include batiks by Laetita, tapestries by Kopel Gurwin, lace paintings by Hanna Kralova, ceramics by Rina Peleg, Lydia Zabatsky and Edit Ady, and a selection of jewelry.

Some 1000 delegates attending the 44th annual convention of the National Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs in Hollywood, Fla., adopted a resolution expressing “deep kinship with Israel and sending our congratulations and best wishes to the government and the people of Israel as they celebrate the 25th anniversary of its founding.” The resolution added: “Being one people, we Jews of the diaspora enjoy and acknowledge a special kinship with the Jews of Israel.”

Celebrations across the country also included special television and radio programs devoted to the anniversary. Some 25 large city daily newspapers and several national magazines published special anniversary supplements, editions of features. Most of the English-Jewish newspapers in this country and Canada, and the national Yiddish daily. Forward, also carried features, supplements, essays, editorials and picture pages devoted to Israel’s first 25 years and forecasts of Israel’s continuing efforts to achieve peace and security in the years ahead.

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