Eight days of Yom Ha’atzmaut celebrations
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Eight days of Yom Ha’atzmaut celebrations

Federation holds 'Israel Week'

On Tuesday night Israel will mark its memorial day, remembering the thousands of Israelis who fell in battle or to terrorism.

On Wednesday night Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence day, marking Israel’s 67th anniversary, begins.

But two days marking Israel aren’t enough for the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, which is sponsoring and promoting a variety of events from this Sunday through next Sunday, under the banner of “I Heart Israel Week.”

“It’s a whole week where the whole entire community is celebrating Israel,” said Danit Sibovits, director of the federation’s Center for Israel Engagement.

The “I Heart Israel” events include activities at synagogues and community centers as well as those organized by and at the federation.

“The federation is the go-to place to celebrate Israel,” Ms. Sibovits said. “Anyone can pick and choose what works for their family.”

On Thursday evening, the federation will host a panel on high-tech business in Israel. The keynote speaker is State Senator Loretta Weinberg of Teaneck, who sits on the New Jersey Israel Commission.

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Danit Sibovits

“Federation has been part of the commission for a long time,” said Miriam Allenson, director of marketing services at the Jewish Federation. “But this is the first time we’ve highlighted that relationship.”

Other speakers at the panel include Jeff Pulver, founder of Vonage and an avid investor in Israeli start-ups; a representative from the Israel-U.S. Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation, which funds joint commercial research ventures between U.S. and Israeli companies; Ari Rabban, an Israeli entrepreneur who founded the New Jersey-based phone.com, and Leslie Gurland, a vice president of Tadbik, an Israeli company with operations in New Jersey.

On a less businesslike note, on Saturday night the federation is sponsoring a Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration for the 21-to-39-year-old set. The two-hour cruise along the Hudson leaves from Hoboken and will feature drinks, dessert, and a DJ.

“We have partnered with lots of different organizations” – including several from Hoboken and Jersey City – “and we’re really, really excited,” Ms. Sibovits said.

The weeklong celebration begins on Sunday afternoon with a celebration at the YJCC in Washington Township. On Monday evening, the Wayne YMCA will screen the documentary “Beneath the Helmet,” which follows five recruits in the Israeli army. On Tuesday, the Fair Lawn Jewish Center will host a Yom Hazikaron ceremony. On Wednesday, Temple Emanuel of the Pascack Valley in Woodcliff Lake will hold a cantorial concert marking both Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut. On Thursday, the Wayne YMCA will hold its family Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration, and on Sunday so will the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly.

The reception for the Partnership 2Gether art exhibit, featuring art on the theme of “Jewish Life Cycles” from artists from Nahariya, Israel, as well as local artists, will be on Sunday as well.

This is Ms. Sibovits’s first Yom Ha’atzmaut with the federation; she began working at its Center for Israel Engagement in September. She brings a mixture of Israeli and American heritage to the post. She grew up in New York City, but is an Israeli citizen, and lived in Tel Aviv for a while. Trained as an attorney, she worked for a year and a half in Washington, D.C., on campus-related anti-Semitism.

“This excited me more – to focus on engaging people in Israel,” she said. And, she added, Northern New Jersey has unique resources for engaging with Israel.

“We’re really lucky,” she said. “We have tons of Israelis living right here, and so many Americans who go to Israel so frequently. How do we use that to impact the community?”

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