Shalva Band, IsraelFest! to Mark Israel’s 75th Birthday

Tags: Federation, Israel, Overseas

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Article reprinted with permission from Cleveland Jewish News

As Israel celebrates its 75th Independence Day, the Jewish Federation of Cleveland is celebrating with yearlong programming, including two Yom Ha’atzmaut events in May.

On May 9, The Shalva Band, comprised of eight musicians with disabilities that performed on season six of “The Rising Star” in Israel, will be in town for a performance at Mimi Ohio Theatre in Playhouse Square. On May 14, marking the day of the signing of the Israeli Declaration of Independence, the community is invited to IsraelFest! at the Mandel Jewish Community Center’s Safran Park in Beachwood.

Jill Wallenstein, IsraelFest! co-chair, told the Cleveland Jewish News the Yom Ha’atzmaut events are a way to bring the community together to celebrate its Jewish heritage and connection with Israel.

“There’s a lot of events throughout the year that you can attend, but this is one thing where it’s just so based in our heritage,” she said.


IsraelFest! is an event that is fun for the whole family, she said, noting how her own children left with smiles on their faces, decked out in white and blue and a new pride of their Jewish heritage after last year’s event.

“It was such a fun bonding experience for them to be proud to be Jewish and see that there’s a whole community out there that they have something so in common with,” said Wallenstein, a resident of Solon and a member of Temple Emanu El in Orange.

This year’s festival will include many of the activities that made past years fun for all ages, including inflatables like the Mount Masada climbing wall, stilt walkers, jugglers and entertainers, vendors and games. There will also be kosher food and drinks for sale and live music from IsraBand to enjoy.

This year will also include a petting zoo, a cooking demonstration by Chef Douglas Katz and a shuk, or Israeli marketplace, with Israeli gifts and foods for purchase.

“Because it’s actually on Mother’s Day this year, there will be several activities that are for kids to make crafts for their moms,” she said.

Kids can use up-cycled items to make flower bouquets, cards and bracelets for mom, or visit the shuk for presents.

As the event runs from 2 to 5 p.m., Wallenstein said the timing is perfect for those who have other Mother’s Day plans like brunch or dinner to stop by and include Israel and their heritage in the celebration.

“It’s a way to really make the whole day about spending time with your family as well,” she said.

As IsraelFest! marks the 75th milestone of Israel’s independence, Wallenstein said they are expecting and planning for a larger crowd and encouraging everyone to show up in their Israeli pride with blue and white, but there will also be plenty of Israeli gear available at the event.

“There’s going to be plenty of room for everyone just to feel comfortable, hang out, and spend your Sunday celebrating Israel, celebrating your mom, all the fun stuff,” she said.

If You Go

WHAT: A Concert for Yom Ha’atzmaut with The Shalva Band

WHERE: Mimi Ohio Theatre, 1501 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. May 9

INFO: Tickets are $24, or use the code JFED for $12 tickets. For more information, visit jewishcleveland.org

If You Go

WHAT: IsraelFest! For Yom Ha’atzmaut

WHERE: Mandel Jewish Community Center – Safran Park, 26001 South Woodlands Road, Beachwood

WHEN: 2 to 5 p.m. May 14

INFO: Free and open to the community. For more information, visit jewishcleveland.org

Learn More: Federation, Israel, Overseas