Downtown Chicago was decked in blue and white today as a large, enthusiastic all-ages crowd gathered to celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day.
Sights, sounds and tastes of Israel filled Daley Plaza in honor of Israel’s 66th anniversary: the Israeli flag was raised to the singing of the nation’s national anthem“HaTikvah,” Milt’s BBQ for the Perplexed and Naf Naf Grill offered lunch, and performances from Israeli singer/songwriter Mika Karni and Jaman drummer circle created a festive atmosphere. Celebrants, students from Chicago Jewish Day School and Hillel Torah North Suburban Day School, sang and danced.
Skip Schrayer, chairman of JUF’s Jewish Community Relations Council, welcomed everyone to Daley Plaza and shared words from Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who was unable to attend the festivities.
“Israel’s Independence Day is a time to celebrate and recognize the culture, traditions, and achievements of Israel as well as the contributions that people of Israeli descent have added to our city,” Schrayer read on the mayor’s behalf. He then introduced Roey Gilad, Consul General of Israel to the Midwest.
“I think, especially on such a day like today, we have to remember the Jewish people are peace-loving people, and Israel is a peace-loving country,” Gilad said. “So within all the clouds that are above us, we know there is sunshine, and we know one day – I don’t know if it will be me – but one consul general will stand here and tell you the day of peace has arrived.”
Israfest continues tonight with YLD’s Blue & White Bar Night as well as the opening of the Israeli Jazz and World Music Festival.