9,000 PACK BIGGEST-EVER ISRAELI-AMERICAN EVENT IN NEW YORK CITY
NEW YORK, June 2 – Braving rainy weather, more than 9,000 Israeli Americans, Jews and supporters of Israel packed Pier 94 in Midtown Manhattan on Sunday for the inaugural Israeli-American Council (IAC) Celebrate Israel Festival New York, marking a historic turning point for the Tri-State Israeli-American community.
The largest celebration ever of Israeli-American culture in New York featured an array of iconic Israeli pop culture stars, including the chart-topping singer Rita, beloved children’s entertainer Rinat Gabay and a host of acclaimed Israeli jazz musicians sponsored by the world-famous Blue Note Records label. Israeli pop star Kobi Aflalo also made a surprise appearance, performing a dazzling duet with Rita.
Celebrate Israel New York was organized by IAC in partnership with the Consulate General of Israel in New York, the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRC-NY), and the UJA-Federation of New York, and followed the annual Celebrate Israel Parade on Fifth Avenue.
“Celebrate Israel New York was a game-changer for Israeli-Americans in New York and beyond,” said Yehudit Feinstein-Mentesh, the IAC’s New York regional director. “On Sunday we came together in a powerful embrace to celebrate the rich, multi-layered culture of Israel in the Big Apple. We sang and cried with Rita and Kobi, laughed with Rinat and painted the town blue and white for the first of what we expect will be many magical moments.”
Israel’s Ambassador in New York Ido Aharoni and the CEO of UJA-Federation Eric Goldstein officially opened the festival and welcomed the Israeli-American community. Along with the captivating performances, Celebrate Israel featured a wide array of Israeli-themed attractions, including a food court showcasing Israel’s multicultural cuisine with everything from the breaded chicken cutlets of the Schnitzel Truck to the Mediterranean delicacies of the Shakshuka Truck. Two leading Israeli vintners, Montefiore and Tabor, also offered exquisite wine tastings.
Meanwhile, a technology pavilion showcased some of Israel’s most innovative startups, including the Uber competitor Gett and the on-demand farm-to-table provider Farmigo. A mini Tel-Aviv beach hosted throngs of toddlers playing in the sand behind a backdrop of the seaside city, while former Israeli basketball stars Derrick Sharp and David Blu of Maccabi Tel-Aviv led an exciting basketball clinic.
Celebrate Israel New York culminated a month-long series of IAC Celebrate Israel Festivals across the country this May in Boston, L.A., Las Vegas and Miami, which together attracted more than 50,000 people. The Celebrate Israel Festival was modeled after IAC’s hugely popular Celebrate Israel Festival in Los Angeles for Israel’s Independence Day – the largest Jewish festival in North America, typically drawing more than 15,000.