Melbourne parties for Israel

Partying at the Blue and White Night at the Beth Weizmann Centre, Melbourne. Photo: Peter Haskin.

YOM Ha’atzmaut celebrations are always a highlight of the calendar, with Zionism Victoria hosting various events to unite the community in showing solidarity for the Jewish State.

This year was no exception as the organisation with support from United Israel Appeal launched its latest initiative to mark the momentous occasion, Blue and White Night, with more than 800 people attending Beth Weizmann Community Centre for the event on Wednesday evening.

The main marquee saw swarms of people participate in Israeli dancing and bopping along to live performances by Adam Starr’s band and local singers Sagit Lourie, Vered Harel, Shimon Walles and Karen Feldman, while the Tel Aviv Cafe offered a variety of acoustic musical performances.

Zionism Victoria also introduced a Yom Ha’atzmaut Story Slam, with participants sharing their favourite memories from trips to Israel.

Emcee for the concert Josh Gurgiel  enthused, “I think this new format was exactly what the event needed, and I know it will only go from strength to strength in the future.”

The following afternoon, more than 2000 revelers flocked to Beth Weizmann for the annual Yom Ha’atzmaut Family Festival. With music, entertainment, food and a petting zoo, event coordinator Eileen Freed said it was a fabulous success.

“The youth movements and community partners provided a great variety of fun activities for the participants, making this one of our most successful festivals yet,” she said.

“This event simply cannot happen without the involvement of the over 20 communal organisations who participated and supported it.”

A stall run by The AJN offered children the chance to colour in a specially designed Israel canvas.

Meanwhile, for the young Jewish adult scene, more than 250 students and professionals celebrated at the Israel Bash at Jackson’s in Toorak on Wednesday evening while Zionism Victoria also offered a Shabbat program to continue the lively festivities.

More than 24 synagogues participated in the event,offering a range of activities for congregants, including Israeli-themed dinners, kiddushes and games for children.

Reflecting on the success of the variety of programs and events for this year’s celebration, Zionism Victoria president Sharene Hambur said, “From the solemnity and respect of Yom Hazikaron, through the amazing Blue and White Night which exceeded all our expectations, from the Family Festival when Beth Weizmann literally heaved with people to the great enthusiasm across the community for Israel Shabbat, we have done the Melbourne Zionist community and Israel proud.”