On Sunday, April 30, the Akron community is invited to explore everything Israeli at the Israel Festival honoring Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israel’s 69th Independence Day. The festivities will celebrate Israel’s spirit and triumph through fun games and activities, food and special guest speakers for adults, families and children of all ages. The event is free and open to the public and is co-sponsored by the Shaw JCC and the Jewish Community Board of Akron.
“More than 250 people attended last year, and we are hopeful that it will be an even bigger and successful event this year,” says Shay Goldenberg, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Israeli Shaliach (Emissary) for the Jewish Community Board of Akron. “It is a day to express solidarity with Israel and offers the chance to experience some of the diverse culinary, cultural and artistic gifts of Israel without having to leave Akron!”
The Israel Festival begins at noon with songs by Cantor Kathy Fromson and Rachel Osherow along with a flag dance performance by The Lippman School students in remembrance of Israel’s fallen soldiers.
From 12:30 to 3 p.m., guests will be treated to Israeli music, a bouncy house, photo magnet booth, face painting, Israel souvenirs, complimentary snacks, activities for all ages, plus an Israeli meal available for $5 through Efrat’s Café & Catering.
“Connecting our community to the people, history, culture and land of Israel remains a core value of the Shaw JCC,” says Michael Neumann, Shaw JCC executive director. “The Israel Festival is an exciting, innovative way for the community to learn about and celebrate Israel’s spirit through sports.”
Starting at 1 p.m., festivities will include special guest speaker and world Jiu-Jitsu champ Lior Ofir. Born in Israel, Ofir was drafted into the Israel Defense Forces in 2003 where he joined the elite Navy Seals unit and served as a sniper and medic for nearly five years. Ofir has practiced martial arts for more than 10 years, and in 2016, won five world champion titles in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He will give a self-defense demonstration along with Krav Maga.
At 2 p.m., festival guests will have the opportunity to watch the film “On the Map,” Dani Menkin’s documentary that recounts how the Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team’s 1977 triumph galvanized Israel. A question and answer session with Mark Sack, Maccabi USA alumni, will follow.
All activities will take place at the Schultz Campus for Jewish Life located at 750 White Pond Drive in Akron. Free parking is available. For more information, call the Shaw JCC at 330-867-7850 or visit www.shawjcc.org.