May 31, 2013

Thousands Join in Celebration at Israel Fest 65

The nearly 3,000 of you who were at Mizner Park Amphitheater on Sunday, May 19 will need no explanation of why Israel Fest 65 will always stand out as the culminating highlight of my first year at Federation and one of my truly memorable Jewish communal experiences. Looking out at the crowd, amid the banners and flags, I saw the full vibrant diversity of our Jewish community – all ages and stages of life, all backgrounds, all neighborhoods – together for one purpose: to celebrate the miracles of our homeland’s Statehood and its phenomenal, rapid transformation into a democracy at the cutting edge of technology & science, culture & the arts, humanitarian aid and the environment.* Click here to enjoy great photos of Israel Fest.

Walking the paths formed by 35 display tents showcasing the resources and talents of our community, watching our Day School and congregational school students onstage, the pride and love surrounding me were palpable – for Israel, for our people, and for our own South Palm Beach County Jewish community. I’m filled with gratitude for all the efforts of our rabbis and their synagogues, our agencies, schools and organizations that put so much heartfelt effort into making Israel Fest such a powerful, joyous experience for all of us.

As I’ve stated before in this column, our community’s most essential responsibility is to come together to care for each other and our people. On Sunday, May 19 at Mizner Park Amphitheater, one could see and feel this happening around us. I’m delighted that our Federation was able to provide this opportunity to all free of charge, including great performances by The Maccabeats and the Boca Raton Symphonia, and the children’s activities that drew so many young families.

It was also stirring and empowering to have Chaim Shacham, Consul General of Israel to Florida & Puerto Rico, and our community leaders standing with us and with Israel, including former Palm Beach County Commissioner Burt Aaronson, Congressman Ted Deutch, Boca Raton Mayor Susan Whelchel, Deputy Mayor Susan Haynie and City Council Member Constance Scott, as well as Pastor Tye Riter of Calvary West Boca. Betty Kane joined me in speaking on behalf of the Federation. Click here to enjoy great photos of Israel Fest.

We came together again as a community the day after Israel Fest, in response to the devastating tornadoes in Oklahoma. This joint effort with other Federations has already raised $415,000, and it’s not too late to contribute. As Floridians familiar with natural disasters, we know that recovery will be a long process.

Whether celebrating, addressing crises or anytime, I appreciate hearing your ideas about our community at asktheceo@bocafed.org .

* By the way, you can click here to see how our JCRC’s ImagiNation Israel YouTube teen video contest winner Simcha Stadlan covered all these areas of Israel’s accomplishments and more in 3 minutes.

B’shalom,

Matthew C. Levin, President & CEO
Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County

Past Messages from Matt