The Israeli flag was raised over the Israeli consulate in Los Angeles for the first time since its opening in 1973.
Israeli consulate offices around the world generally do not fly the Israeli flag openly for fear they will be targeted for violence.
Sunday’s outdoor flag-raising event, under extensive security, was an old-fashioned, lift- your-voices, wave-the-flag celebration, with a little bit of everything.
Maria del Jesus had been waiting under the warm sun for three hours, pressed up against a police barricade, for a good look as the blue and white flag was hoisted ceremoniously in front of the Israeli consulate. ” This is for the Holy Land,” del Jesus said emotionally. Next to her stood 79-year old Miriam Blick, who wanted a close-up of her grandson singing with his classmates from the Stephen S. Wise day school.
The two women joined close to 3,000 Southern Californians, from San Diego to Santa Barbara, on Sunday for what was billed as an hour-long gala, “Blue and White on Wilshire,” the city’s main downtown-to-coast thoroughfare.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa pledged his city’s unbreakable bond with Israel and ending with a rousing “Am Yisrael Chai.” Choirs from the Faithful Central Bible Church and three Jewish day schools sang, the Jewish Symphony Orchestra and Latino bands played, 60 rabbis and lay people blew shofars, and American Macy Gray and Israeli Noa Tishby sang their country’s respective national anthems.
The catalyst for the event was Israeli Consul General Yaakov Dayan, who, on assuming his post a year ago, wondered why his country’s emblem did not fly before the consulate in Los Angeles and in five other American cities. It took about 12 months to push the project through.
Dayan, whose staff had worked around the clock to organize the event, looked at the crowd and the sea of small and large Israeli flags, and could only murmur in amazement, “What a sight, what a sight.”