Jun 19, 2017
3rd Annual Jewish Unity Day Event Celebrates and Commemorates
Once again, a vibrant crowd from all across diverse Jewish South Palm Beach County came together in testament to the strength and joy of this united Jewish community. For a third year, the Jewish Unity Day event brought together local Jewish community leaders and members, to join with more than a million Jews in 24 countries across six continents in their own observances.
“How wonderful it feels to be part of an extended family so vibrant and diverse, so caring and committed to each other and to our people,” said Anne Jacobson, taking the stage to welcome the crowd after Rabbi Ruvi New of Chabad of East Boca raised the ruach. “As Chair of our Federation Board, nothing gives me greater joy and hope! And tonight, at our third Jewish Unity Day, we also feel the joy, the hope, the strength and the spirit of being part of our much larger global Jewish family.”
The multimedia evening program featured speakers from varied community organizations and programs to spotlight some of the powerful examples of Jewish Unity that have given this Jewish community a national reputation as a model to emulate. The night also commemorated the reunification of Jerusalem in the Six Day War, including stirring live music with the internationally renowned Shimon Craimer, Cantor at Riverdale Jewish Center in New York, and an array of videos from heartwarming to poignant that included a personal message from Natan Sharansky.
Three pairs of speakers from diverse local programs spotlighted some of the powerful examples of Jewish unity that make this Jewish community stand out not once a year, but every day.
Close friends Rabbi Philip Moskowitz from the Modern Orthodox Boca Raton Synagogue, and Helena Levine, Head of School from Donna Klein Jewish Academy, described the Torah scroll as the “community roadmap,” because each letter and each person serves a different purpose, yet are only complete as part of the whole. “Just as each letter in the scroll must stand alone, each one of us brings our own unique talents, style and passions to our community,” said Rabbi Moskowitz. Next, recent high school graduates Ayala Broide, an Orthodox Jew from Katz Yeshiva High School of South Florida, and Samantha Meade, a Reform Jew from the Pine Crest School, spoke about becoming close friends during the March of the Living. Against the backdrop of the shoah in Poland and the triumphs and sacrifices of Israel, they discovered the deep value of learning from each other - and, as Broide said, “More unites us than divides us – and we are far stronger together.” Rabbi Baruch Shmuel Liberow of the Chabad Student Center at Florida Atlantic University and Adam Kollet, Executive Director of Hillel of Broward and Palm Beach, described their ongoing collaboration in vision and activities to provide an array of opportunities for students’ Jewish experiences on local college campuses. Both focus on the uniqueness of every student, and on ensuring the Jewish tomorrow.
Then Michael Lawrence, Chief Development Officer and Israel Office Director at the Jewish Agency for Israel revisited the origins of Jewish Unity Day. He paid “tribute to the parents of the three Israeli boys who were kidnapped and murdered now three years ago,” Their families’ call for unity in the days following and in subsequent years, continues to bring Jewish communities and the Jewish world together. In light of South Palm Beach County’s hosting the largest, most inclusive Jewish Unity Day observances, and for our year-round efforts, Lawrence concluded with, “Thank you for being an inspiration to many, and mazal tov on your remarkable work.”
Powerful video footage and words from Matthew C. Levin, Federation President and CEO, commemorated the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem during the Six Day War. Levin recalled the breathtaking moment when Jerusalem's Temple Mount was once again in Jewish hands. "After a strategic battle that began with defending the 19-year-old State of Israel from threatened annihilation by troops amassed on all sides, we were home. Jerusalem was again one city — reunited and ready to shine," Levin began.
Levin concluded by encouraging the audience to visit Israel as it heads into its 70th anniversary year of statehood. “For millennia, Jerusalem has beckoned our people,” Levin said. “We feel the hands of generations of Jews who came before us, those who thrived and those who suffered, pushing us toward the kotel. The glow of Jerusalem reaches us wherever we are, throughout the diaspora. But, as many of you know, there is nothing like being there. I urge you to enrich your soul, express your support, and enjoy so much by visiting in person.
Levin continued, “Whether you’re a first-time visitor, have been to Israel many times, or anything in between, a unique opportunity to visit our homeland as part of this incredible Jewish community is coming up with our Spirit of Israel Community Mission this November.”
The evening was presented by the Deborah & Larry D. Silver Center for Jewish Engagement, a division of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, and emceed by its Director, Rabbi Josh Broide.
“I’m so proud to be here among such committed leaders and members of this remarkable Jewish community,” said Deborah Silver. “Larry and I created the Center for Jewish Engagement out of our deep commitment to this Jewish community and to Jewish life now and in the future. So you can imagine how thrilled we are to be part of another Jewish Unity Day.”
For more information about Jewish Unity Day, the Center for Jewish Engagement, or the wealth of Jewish opportunities in South Palm Beach County, contact Rabbi Josh Broide at firstname.lastname@example.org or 561-852-3173. For more information about the Spirit of Israel Community Mission coming up in November, visit jewishboca.org/spirit, call 561-852-6050 or email BarbaraK@bocafed.org.