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The Party for Israel Season Begins

The more precarious the political situation, the rowdier the festivities

Liel Leibovitz
March 31, 2015

Much like movie award season, that interminable string of Hollywood fetes lauding the famous and the beautiful, the celebrate Israel season is becoming a protracted affair: where one parade once represented all the blue-and-white New York City could take, this year’s celebrations will be many and varied, from small and intellectual gatherings to mega-parties on the Hudson, suggesting that no matter the state of the relationship between the gentlemen in Jerusalem and Pennsylvania Avenue, the special friendship between Israel and America is still a pretty good premise for a party.

The festivities will begin with the JCC Manhattan’s weeklong event, titled “The Upper West Side Celebrates Israel.” Beginning with a Tekes Ma’avar, a ceremony to transition from Israel’s Memorial Day to its Independence Day, the event will include everything from a talk by The New York Times’ Israel correspondent Jodi Rudoren to Israeli music, movies, and food. A few weeks later, on May 31, following the customary JCRC-run Celebrate Israel parade, the Israeli American Council, a fast-growing organization dedicated to the Israeli-American community, will hold a massive festival on the banks of the Hudson—which, in full disclosure, I am helping to organize—headlined by Israeli superstar Rita and featuring other attractions likely to delight Israeli expats hungry for a little taste of home, from a fashion show featuring the work of Israeli designers to a replica of the Kotel tunnels. Not to be outdone, the Consulate General of Israel in New York will cap the day with a massive event of its own, a gala dinner for a few thousand of its closest friends.

You could argue that all these events are overkill. But when the news so often is so grim, there’s something to be said for bucking down and throwing another bash.

Liel Leibovitz is editor-at-large for Tablet Magazine and a host of its weekly culture podcast Unorthodox and daily Talmud podcast Take One. He is the editor of Zionism: The Tablet Guide.