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   CELEBRATING ETHNICITY: ISRAELI AMERICANS

israeli americans


Israel's independence is the special occasion and focus of the day-long festival in mid-May that draws thousands of people to Woodley Park in the San Fernando Valley. A throng of community organizations and local businesses are represented along with numerous food vendors that cater to the predominantly Jewish and Israeli crowd. Israeli arts and crafts are on display for sale, and special exhibits showcase Israeli culture with Tel Aviv leading the way. The action takes place around several stages with music and dance featured as the main attractions, punctuated by speeches and ceremonies honoring community and civic leaders, and elected officials including often the mayor of Los Angels and sometimes the governor of California. The broad strata of the Israeli community gather in a picnic-like atmosphere to show ethnic and religious solidarity and showcase the common bonds that bring the community together—in this case the founding of the state of Israel (the centennial of Tel Aviv and Theodor Herzl, the father of Zionism, have been central motifs in past celebrations). The festival and the multitudes gathered for this annual event draw attention to the impact that Jewish immigrants from Israel, Russia, Iran, and Ethiopia have had on American Jewry at large.

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