More than 1,300 festival goers flooded into the cardo and all over the Simon Family JCC into the back fields, where they rode a camel, ate falafel, played gaga, wrote notes at the “Western Wall,” and so much more at the JCC’s biggest Israel Festival to date.
It was a time to experience Israeli culture, enjoy the company of friends, meet new ones, and share a special Yom Ha’Atzmaut with members of the Jewish community and beyond. A handful of children share what they most enjoyed about the day: “The orange motorcycle with lights was my favorite part,” says 10-year-old Yecheil Adler. Eight-year-old Noah Alper liked playing in the gaga pit best, but his five-year-old brother Adam says the best thing about the festival was definitely the frozen yogurt!
HAT second grader Tal Zach says that the monkey jump inflatable was his favorite, and that his camel ride was fun but bumpy. His mother Hila, originally from Israel, thought the entire festival was run in a very authentic way. “The atmosphere was very Israeli in feeling and in the layout. My kids got a lot out of putting a special ‘note’ in the Western Wall. I’d think all the children here today really got a taste of celebrations in Israel,” she says.
Bradlee Goldberg proudly carried his caricature, and says that this was his favorite thing about the day, while his older sister Alyssa proudly displayed her recent jewelry purchase, and thought the jewelry vendors were fabulous. With the help and participation of more than 80 volunteers and staff from area Jewish agencies, it was a successful and memorable day for all.
The festival would not have been possible without its sponsors, Old Point Bank, Charles Barker Infiniti, The Christian Broadcasting Network, Congressman and Mrs. Scott Rigell, and Jackie and Randall Furman.
“We were so pleased with the overwhelming support that our Israel Festival celebration received both from our sponsors and from the community at large,” says Harry Graber, executive vice president of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater. “Events such as these truly make everyone present feel a part of something much greater than themselves.”
“What a joy to see hundreds of children and adults in our community waving the Israeli flag,” says Gloria Siegel, vice president, cultural arts at the JCC. “The Simon Family JCC and Israel are holding hands across the ocean to help our local community celebrate the 64th anniversary of the creation of the State of Israel.”
by Leslie Shroyer