|Young Jews in Hoboken rock to the sounds of The Shuk. Yaron Karl Photography|
It was almost like walking through the harbor area in Tel Aviv or Ha’Oman Street in Jerusalem. There was Israeli rock music blaring from the bar. People were spilling onto the streets enjoying the Yom Ha’Atzmaut (Israel Independence Day) celebrations. But this wasn’t Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.
This was Hoboken.
The bar was Maxwell’s and the featured Israeli rock band was The Shuk. More than 130 young people gathered last Thursday at Maxwell’s to celebrate Israel’s Independence Day at a program called “The Israel Birthday Bash.”
“A lot of people said it couldn’t be done,” said one of the local organizers, Josh Einstein from the Hoboken Moishe House. “Young people do not go out to Jewish events in New Jersey. They go to the city. We got organized and proved that 20- and 30-year-olds do want to meet in New Jersey.”
The crowd danced to many of the band’s well-known Israeli songs, including The Shuk’s versions of “Adama v’Shamayim” (“Land and Skies”), “Shalom Eretz Nehederet” (“Hello Wonderful Land”), and the Leonard Cohen classic, “Hallelujah.”
“It’s just like Yom Ha’Atzmaut in Israel,” said Dafna Yizrael, the youth shlicha (emissary from Israel) for the United Jewish Communities of MetroWest. “Without a doubt,” she said, “we can claim that this event is a success. We now have to ask where we go with this initiative.”
The Israeli emissaries from UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey and the MetroWest federation organized the event with Hoboken groups, including United Synagogue, Moishe House, Young Hadassah, and Jewish Young Adults of Hoboken. They were joined by New Jersey-wide Jewish organizations such as Jersey Tribe, and the event was sponsored by national organizations including the Israeli Consulate in New York, Nefesh B’Nefesh, Birthright Israel NEXT and MASA (of the Jewish Agency for Israel).