Sun Sentinel Broward Edition

Is­rael Fes­ti­val draws es­ti­mated 8,000

- By Brian Bal­lou Staff writer

PEM­BROKE PINES — As mu­si­cal acts kicked the crowd into a danc­ing frenzy and two sin­gle-en­gine prop planes cir­cled over­head with teth­ered Is­raeli and U.S. flags, the aroma of ham­burg­ers from the kosher food court beck­oned.

The Cel­e­brate Is­rael Fes­ti­val, held at C.B. Smith Park, drew an es­ti­mated 8,000 peo­ple, mak­ing it the largest Jewish gath­er­ing in South Florida since 2001, or­ga­niz­ers said.

The theme that re­ver­ber­ated through­out the grounds was unity and cel­e­bra­tion of her­itage and cul­ture.

“This is a beau­ti­ful thing for the Is­raeli com­mu­nity; this is a very im­por­tant day for us to cel­e­brate in­de­pen­dence,” said Adam Shamesh, 32, of Coral Springs, who at­tended with his wife Sara Shamesh, 30, and two chil­dren. In­de­pen­dence Day was April 23.

The Is­raeli-Amer­i­can Coun­cil or­ga­nized the fes­ti­val, the first of sim­i­lar events sched­uled for Los An­ge­les, Las Ve­gas, Bos­ton and New York.

“Th­ese are very dif­fi­cult times for Jews around the world, anti-Semitism is on the rise,” said Miriam Alpern, spokes­woman for the Is­raeli Amer­i­can Coun­cil. “The fact there is an ef­fort to dele­git­imize the state of Is­rael at a time like this, the op­por­tu­nity to cel­e­brate Is­rael’s in­de­pen­dence is some­thing we em­brace.”

The event had a lit­tle bit of ev­ery­thing. One booth dis­played a luxury car that was raf­fled, an­other was a karaoke sta­tion, and oth­ers booths sold trin­kets, T-shirts and art­work.

The fes­ti­val fea­tured a Ma­hane Ye­huda Mar­ket that was styled af­ter the sprawl­ing out­door mar­ket­place in Jerusalem and a replica of the West­ern Wall.

“Wow, this is a lot big­ger than I thought,” said Stein, who found out about the event through the Jewish Fed­er­a­tion of Broward County.

Broward Sher­iff Scott Is­rael tweeted that he en­joyed the fes­ti­val.

“We like to be a part of all com­mu­nity events that sup­port Is­rael,” said Hil­lary Stein, 36, of Hol­ly­wood, whose brother-in­law is Is­raeli.

 ?? PHO­TOS BY JIM RASSOL/STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER ?? Charita Cooper, of Aven­tura, dances to live mu­sic as she cel­e­brates Is­rael at C.B. Smith Park in Pem­broke Pines. Sun­day’s event in­cluded live mu­sic, art and busi­ness ven­dor dis­plays.
PHO­TOS BY JIM RASSOL/STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER Charita Cooper, of Aven­tura, dances to live mu­sic as she cel­e­brates Is­rael at C.B. Smith Park in Pem­broke Pines. Sun­day’s event in­cluded live mu­sic, art and busi­ness ven­dor dis­plays.
 ??  ?? Thou­sands gath­ered from around South Florida to hear the sounds of Shlomi Sha­bat and cel­e­brate Is­rael. The Is­raeli-Amer­i­can Coun­cil or­ga­nized the fes­ti­val.
Thou­sands gath­ered from around South Florida to hear the sounds of Shlomi Sha­bat and cel­e­brate Is­rael. The Is­raeli-Amer­i­can Coun­cil or­ga­nized the fes­ti­val.

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