Jun 20, 2016
Nearly 2,000 Make History at Jewish Unity Day Event
Four times larger than last year’s, a crowd from across Jewish South Palm Beach County raised the ruach in testament to the strength and joy of our united Jewish community at the local observance of Jewish Unity Day on June 6, 2016. Nearly two thousand strong, we gathered in all our vibrant Jewish diversity at the Carole & Barry Kaye auditorium at FAU in Boca Raton for a night we’ll all long remember.
The evening was presented by the Deborah and Larry D. Silver Center for Jewish Engagement (CJE), a division of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, in partnership with more than 60 local synagogues, schools, agencies and organizations.
Together, we cheered and cried, we listened and sang through an evening of inspiring presentations, videos and music. Together, we once again answered the resounding call from the parents of Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-Ad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah, the teens whose tragic kidnapping and murder by terrorists two summers ago so swiftly and powerfully brought the Jewish world together – their call to come together to experience that overwhelming unity again, and to build on it proactively.
Bat-Galim and Ofir Shaer, parents of Gil-Ad Shaer, special guests of the evening, received standing ovations before and after being interviewed onstage by Rebbetzin Yocheved Goldberg of Boca Raton Synagogue.
Other special guest presenters were Congressman Ted Deutch, who had met with the boys' families during their mourning two years ago, and Russell F. Robinson, CEO of the Jewish National Fund — which is building a beautiful, outdoor public space memorial to the boys near the site of their kidnapping.
The featured speakers, Orthodox Rabbi Efrem Goldberg of Boca Raton Synagogue, Conservative Rabbi David Steinhardt of B'nai Torah Congregation and Reform Rabbi Dan Levin of Temple Beth El of Boca Raton, offered powerful, profound original remarks. Reform Rabbi Marci Bloch of Congregation B’nai Israel offered a stirring reading, and Rabbi Ruvi New of Chabad of East Boca raised the ruach even higher, leading the audience in song.
The audience also heard from the Federation’s Board Chair, Anne Jacobson; President & CEO Matt Levin; and Executive VP Marla Weiss Egers; and from CJE Director Rabbi Josh Broide, who kvelled, “Our community made history that night. We are proud to be the only community that can claim to have brought together all of our community leaders and rabbis to share a stage and proclaim ‘unity, not uniformity,’ as well as capture it in a photograph backed by nearly 2,000 diverse local Jewish residents. We hope to make the film of the event available soon, but for now here is a link to the “Ani Yehudi” video that we featured that evening.
“Of course, our community fosters and practices Jewish Unity every day of the year,” continued Rabbi Broide. “Stay tuned for all sorts of opportunities as we build upon the Jewish Unity Day event’s success. We have big plans for the upcoming year!”