Community Coming Together For Virtual Yom Ha’atzmaut Celebration

Maybe next year will be the time we can all get together to celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut as a community, but as long as we’re all going to be together virtually, the JCC and their community partners are determined to make the best of it.

Steve Mintz, the new director of programming at the Minnesota JCC, has helped put together a program that can appeal to a wide range of the Twin Cities Jewish community — and those who want to watch from around the world.

“The goal among the team was to look at how we can do a community celebration virtually which addresses different portions of the community, celebrates Israel, and marks this moment with joyous, interesting and enriching experiences for everybody,” Mintz said. Registration for the event is free.

The festivities start on Thursday night, April 15, with the Jewish Federations of North America celebration, and continues on Friday afternoon with a conversation with Erez Kaganovitz, the creator of Humans Of Tel Aviv, which is based on the Humans of New York.

“Erez thought there were stories to be told. He started blogging about it and created an amazing catalog of stories and photos,” Mintz said. “Everywhere you turn, people have amazing stories. As I talked with him and heard his passion, I thought this would be a beautiful celebration.”

The celebration continues on Sunday at 10 a.m. with a moderated conversation about Israel’s Lone Soldiers — those who make aliyah to Israel to serve in the IDF — with photo essayist Brant Slomovic. Slomovic considers their story through portraits and a survey of Israel’s landscape. There will also be families of soldiers who are currently (or recently) serving as lone soldiers that are part of the program.

At 2 p.m. is the event “Of Two Minds: A Conversation with Comedian Elise Cole (US) & Meytal Ben Shlush (Israel),” for a lively discussion about the similarities and differences between Israeli and American humor, including topics such as parenting, relationships, daily life and more. There’s a Q & A to follow, and the event is co-hosted by Shai Avny and Jonathan Eisenthal.

At 5 p.m. is “Jewish Rock Radio Presents: All-Star Yom Ha’atzmaut Celebration.” The program is being led by Rick Recht, a well-known Jewish musician who Mintz got to play percussion with Recht 20 years ago at Herzl Camp. The event features David Broza, Josh Nelson, Chava Mirel, Nefesh Mountain, Rabbi Josh Warshawsky, Rick Recht, Shimon Smith, Laurie Akers, Rabbi Lisa Silverstein, teens and college students from Israel, and special guests.

“We have worked hard to design a celebration that is interactive and engaging,” Mintz said. “There are different things for people to interact with and experience, from family stuff to in-depth conversations, there is something for everyone.”

Yom Ha’atzmaut 2021 is presented in partnership by the Minnesota JCC, Israel Center of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation, St. Paul Jewish Federation, JCRC, and The Jewish Agency’s Partnership2Gether. 

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