I remember in the late 1970’s, my parents saved up enough money to take their first trip to Israel. When they returned, they gave me and my siblings gifts. I remember I was given a t shirt that said “Israel Is Real”. I know it sounds a little corny today, but it was a big deal for me back then.
For all of us in Pittsburgh, Israel has been real this week.
Monday night, the Federation’s Women’s Philanthropy held a program with JFILM featuring the movie “Above and Beyond” and its Director, Nancy Spielberg. The film told the story of the beginnings of the Israeli Air Force and what some Americans did in making it a reality. For those who haven’t seen this film, it will be on iTunes and On Demand in the very near future. You will be moved.
The Federation held its annual Yom Hazikaron remembrance on Tuesday night. Hundreds turned out in the JCC Katz Theater. There, they saw disabled Israeli veterans lower an Israeli flag to half-mast. Individuals with familial or organizational connections to those who have lost their lives in war or as victims of terror lit candles in memory of them. Gregg Roman, our Community Relations Council Director, shared a very personal story about a childhood friend who lost his life.
Thursday afternoon and evening, the Federation’s Annual Yom Ha’atzmaut Celebration was held at the JCC. So many fun activities for kids including face painting, games and a concert by Rick Recht took place. There was a tasting of Israeli wine produced at Kishorit, a remarkable nonprofit institution, supported in part by Federation, for individuals with special needs located in our Partnership2Gether Region of Karmiel and Misgav. The movie, “Under the Helmet”, was shown in cooperation with JFilm. The crowds were remarkable as we came together to celebrate.
This Sunday, you have one more chance to celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut at the South Hills JCC from 12:30 pm-3:30 pm (see the banner below). Sheldon Low, another great Jewish performer like Rick Recht, will be there along with other entertainment and fun for everyone. This is a program by the Federation’s South Hills Initiative that is trying to engage more Jews in Jewish life in cooperation with the great Jewish institutions and synagogues working in the South Hills. For those of you who do not live in the South Hills, you are also invited! Let’s show everyone that bridges and tunnels are not so scary!