2,000 turn out for Yom Ha'atzmaut celebration
- Share This Story
ED WITTENBERG CJN Staff Reporter
An energetic performance by Israeli singer Noa highlighted the Jewish Federation of Cleveland’s Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration May 5 at Executive Caterers at Landerhaven in Mayfield Heights.
“It’s so nice to be with you in Cleveland,” Noa sang as she opened her 80-minute set. The 1,200 people who packed the Grand Ballroom for the free concert showed their appreciation as well, often clapping to the rhythm of the music.
“We enjoyed it,” Noa said in a brief interview after the show, when she signed copies of her “Live in Israel” CD and posed for photos with fans. “It was a nice audience, a large audience, and we’re happy to have been invited. They were more attentive than I expected.”
About 2,000 people attended the annual event, marking Israel’s Independence Day. It included activities for children, kosher food and a shuk (marketplace), where vendors sold Israeli jewelry, handmade wares and other items.
The Federation partnered with more than 50 local Jewish organizations, including the Cleveland Jewish News, in sponsoring the free event.
“I’m just so struck by all the energy here, all the passion for Israel and the turnout from our community,” Federation board chair Renee Chelm said. “It’s terrific. I feel we have an amazing community, and this is just one example of how we show that.”
Chelm was one of many who were looking forward to the concert, and Noa did not disappoint.
Accompanied by acoustic guitarist Gil Dor, the band’s musical director and arranger, and stand-up bass player Adam Ben Ezra, Noa performed a combination of old and new songs, including several from her new album, “Love Medicine,” which will be released in June.
Noa showed versatility as she shifted smoothly from tender ballads to uptempo songs, during which she played a variety of percussion instruments, including a conga, tumba and darbuka. Singing in English, Hebrew and Yemenite, she belted out “Boi Kala” (Hebrew for “Come O Bride”) – her most popular song in Israel – and closed the concert with a rousing version of “Keren Or” (“Ray of Light”).
Tanya Davis of Cleveland Heights noted her sister, Erika Goff, traveled from Northville, Mich., a suburb of Detroit, to see Noa perform.
“She’s in love with her,” Davis said, smiling.
Goff confirmed she is a big fan of Noa’s.
“She has many different styles, advocates for peace, and she’s very family oriented,” Goff said.
Davis and Goff also enjoyed the food at the event, munching on their falafel and schwarma pitas from Jerusalem Grill in South Euclid. Contempo Cuisine in University Heights and Sababa Cuisine and Lax and Mandel Bakery, both in South Euclid, were also popular choices in the “Israeli Cafe.”
Before Noa performed, Lt. Col. Keren Kamerinsky of the Israel Defense Forces offered remarks, thanking the Federation for its support of the IDF. Kamerinsky was commander of the 2014 IDF Yom Ha’atzmaut mission to Cleveland.
Scott Matasar, a co-chair of the event, led the singing of “Hatikvah,” the Israeli national anthem. Other co-chairs were his wife, Sheryl Handler-Matasar, and Louis and Cindy Chaiten.