50 Years Since Jews Regained Jerusalem Celebrated in Pan Pacific Park & Pico-Robertson
On Tuesday, May 23rd, Angelenos gathered at Pan Pacific Park to celebrate a very special Yom Yerushalayim. It has been 50 years since the Jewish people regained control of the Old City during the Six Day War. A separate event at B’nai David–Judea celebrated this occasion with a performing arts event.
The entertainment at this first-ever community achdut chagigah in Pan Pacific Park included Cantor Arik Wollheim singing a rousing “Hatikvah” and Simcha Leiner singing familiar songs about Jerusalem with everyone. Students from co-sponsors Shalhevet High School, Emek Hebrew Academy, NCSY, Yavneh, YSCC, Harkham Hillel Academy, and Harkham Gaon, joined in and danced on both sides of the makeshift mechizah. In addition to the schools, several shuls – including Young Israel of North Beverly Hills, Beth Jacob, and Young Israel of Century City, and B’nai David–Judea Congregation – co-sponsored the event.
AD catering was on hand to sell barbeque chicken, hot dogs, and hamburgers served with potatoes and salad. Rabbi Tsaidi, Judaic Studies Principal of Harkham Hillel Academy, stated that he was very excited about the level of achdut between the shuls, schools and organizations that joined together and hoped even more would unite in the coming years.
Across a large banner above the stage area was written the pasuk (Psalm 122:3), “a city that is bound firmly together.” Based on this pasuk, the Talmud Yerushalmi states that Yerushalayim is a city that has the potential to transform all Jews into friends.
Los Angeles Jewish community members said they shepped nachas from Rabbi Topp and Rabbi Muskin who were both interviewed on Israel’s Channel 2 television while visiting Israel to commemorate the 50th anniversary of regaining Jerusalem. Rabbi Topp told a reporter that we all have a dream to come to our Holy Land and will b’ezrat Hashem “next year in Jerusalem.” Rabbi Muskin said his being in Jerusalem this year for Yom Yerushalayim was unbelievable because this is a miracle he watched every day since he was little, and that it gives him strength and emunah.
The LA/Israel connection was also felt strongly at another community-wide event held at B’nai David –Judea where the celebrants were invited to partake of Israeli foods – falafel, hummus, baba ganoush, Israeli salad, and stuffed grape leaves – while watching a multi-media Yom Yerushalayim presentation coordinated by BDJ’s Hannah Cohen, Joanne Helperin, and Batsheva Kasdan.
Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky spoke about the meaning of the day. Boaz Hepner, master of ceremonies, introduced dramatic readings about Yerushalayim by talented members of the shul including four-time Grammy Award winner, Linda Korn. Singer and voice-over artist, Barbara Heller, narrated a staged reading of an original screenplay “Brother’s Keeper” by Arnon Z. Shorr.
The BDJ Men’s Choir, “The Third Temple Pilots,” performed classic songs from Israel. Shep Rosenman (guitar), Nachum Petersil (vocals), and Gil Melmed (keyboard) had the audience on their feet with lively songs about Jerusalem.