18,000 Attend the Celebrate Israel Festival 2018 in Rancho Park


18,000 Attend the Celebrate Israel Festival 2018 in Rancho Park

Tova Abady

The Israel-American Council held their annual Celebrate Israel Festival on May 6th on a beautiful sunny day at the Cheviot Hills Recreation Center (Rancho Park). The annual Tiger Squadron Flyover; top entertainers from Israel, including Israeli superstars Static and Ben El; a multitude of exhibitors; and delicious kosher food items created an atmosphere of fun and excitement.

Children’s activities included the petting zoo with a baby llama, riding on a camel or a pony, making crafts (including jewelry and clay pomegranates), an amusement park ride, and listening to performances on stage. They could also participate in baking challah for Shabbos at the Mega Challah Bake.

A diverse group of Jews from all backgrounds sat together in the Shabbos Tent listening to great music of Moshav. Yehuda Solomon performed his band’s greatest hits in the tent and said how honored he was to be part of Israel’s 70th anniversary celebration. Yehuda pointed out that all four corners of the tent were open, giving an opportunity to every Jew to shine a light to the world and celebrate our Jewish homeland. He also reminded guests in the tent that coming up is the Junity Music and Arts Festival. That event will be held June 3rd in Pershing Square Park.

Rebbetzin Rachel Bookstein explained what the Shabbos Tent is all about. The purpose of the tent is to bring Shabbos hospitality to music festivals from either Thursday to Sunday or Friday to Monday when a Shabbos is included. It is a “chill” environment where people can relax and drink water and lemonade. Many people who never had a Shabbos in their lives realize how they can change gears, unplug from their electronics, and plug into community, friendship, and family. Rachel Bookstein also said that hospitality is the origin and basis of Judaism. She, along with her husband Rabbi Yonah Bookstein, are well-known in Los Angeles for their amazing hospitality, delicious meals, and energy at the Pico Shul.

Gil Meshulam, a volunteer for IAC, invited visitors inside the Tent of Innovation. There was an area with iPods to explore all the apps developed in Israel, the most popular being the GPS system Waze, Viper (a communication management system), and the new fuse.it, which allows you to integrate animation and augmented reality into personalized ready-to-view video. The founder of fuse.it, Liat Sade-Sternberg, was onsite to talk to anyone about this fun app.

Also in the Tent of Innovation were a photography booth, areas to listen with headsets, and places to read about the latest Israeli advancements including Or Cam. Itay Ozer, originally from Gan Yavne, and Rachel Shiffman – now both students at the University of Arizona – represented Or Cam, an amazing device to help the blind and visually impaired. Or Cam informs users about what is around them based on data gathered from pictures. Rachel mentioned that when students go on Taglit Birthright trips, they have an opportunity to go to the Innovation Center in Israel and do similar exploration of technology. Moore Greenberg, originally from Israel, showed a demonstration of his invention that will remind people in how many hours they need to take their medication.

A 10-minute video ran continuously portraying how important Israel is as a “start-up nation.” Israel, the film pointed out, has the highest density of startups in the world and more listings on NASDAQ than Japan, Korea, and India combined. One invention shown in the film was a bicycle made out of cardboard that cost next to nothing (waterproof, fireproof, and maintenance free), to transport young Kenyan children who normally carry water 10 miles on their back.

Shoham Nicolet, Co-Founder and CEO of the IAC, conceived of the idea for the Pomegranate Sculpture Park. Thanks to the Greater Chicago Jewish Festival and Michael M. Lorge, local Los Angeles artists (individuals and schools), decorated many four-foot-tall pomegranates with a variety of themes that were on display at the festival.

Naty Saidoff, founder of the original Celebrate Israel Festival, summed the day up for everyone when he said how lucky he was to grow up in a place like Israel “surrounded by our history, our heritage, and our diverse culture.” Nati and his wife Debbie are stalwart supporters of many causes connected to Israel.