Representing Gov. Larry Hogan, Lt. Gov. Boyd K. Rutherford was among 1,800 people on April 18 who celebrated the 70th anniversary of Israel’s founding at Pikesville’s Beth Tfiloh Congregation.
The Yom Ha’atzmaut, or Israel Independence Day, celebration was presented by the Pikesville synagogue and 23 other congregations and Jewish organizations. Jmore was the media sponsor of the event.
The evening commenced with a mincha/maariv service led by members of the Jewish rock band SoulFarm, followed by a ceremony kicked off by Beth Tfiloh’s Rabbi Mitchell Wohlberg.
During the ceremony, Rutherford affirmed Maryland’s solidarity with Israel, and Knesset members Rachel Azaria and Oded Forer – as well as Tomer Glam, mayor of Ashkelon, Baltimore’s sister city in Israel — addressed guests by video.
Mitch Gold, treasurer of Friends of the Israel Defense Forces’ Mid-Atlantic Region, paid tribute to seven Baltimoreans who served in the IDF. The ceremony closed with the singing of Israel’s national anthem, “Hatikvah,” by Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School middle and high school students.
After the ceremony, community members danced to music performed by SoulFarm and participated in activities including a re-creation of the Israel Museum’s children’s craft room, featuring a simulated Israeli archaeological dig, Western Wall and Independence Hall.
Other activities included a basketball shoot and gaga pit, an Israeli-style barbecue, bounce houses and a large photo backdrop of the Western Wall for “selfies.”
A marketplace based on Jerusalem’s shuk enabled guests to purchase jewelry, gift items and Judaica created by adults and children with disabilities and artisans from underprivileged Israeli communities. A photography exhibition called “Israel: The Last 70 Years” was on display, and guests dined on a six-foot- tall cake designed by Pariser’s Bakery that depicted historic Israeli milestones.
The evening culminated in a festive fireworks display.
Besides Beth Tfiloh and its school, sponsors of the celebration included The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, the Baltimore Israel Coalition, the Baltimore Zionist District, Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, Beth Am Synagogue, Beth El Congregation, Beth Israel Congregation, B’nai Israel Congregation, the Beth Tfiloh Brotherhood & Sisterhood, Chevrei Tzedek, Chizuk Amuno Congregation, Friends of the IDF, Hadassah Greater Baltimore, Israel Bonds Baltimore, the Israeli American Council, the Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore, the Jewish National Fund, the Macks Center for Jewish Education, Ner Tamid Greenspring Valley Synagogue, Pikesville Jewish Congregation, Dov’s By The Case, Pariser’s, and Wine Loft
The previous evening, April 17, also at Beth Tfiloh, Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) moderated a discussion on American foreign policy and Israel’s future in honor of Yom Ha’atzmaut. The fifth annual Dahan Lecture featured Jeffrey Goldberg, editor-in-chief of The Atlantic, and Bret Stephens, contributing columnist for the New York Times and senior contributor for NBC news.
The Dahan Lecture was preceded by a Yom HaZikaron, or Israel Memorial Day, ceremony in the Beth Tfiloh Mintzes Theater.