Giant birthday party for a 70 year-old country


The sign, translated to “Happy Independence,” bordered by the Atlanta skyline. (Sloane Warner/The RamPage)

Sloane Warner

Israel turned 70 years old on the evening of April 18 this year, and Atlanta came together to celebrate on April 29 at Park Tavern in Piedmont Park. The event was sponsored by over 40 local community partners, including the Atlanta Jewish Times, the Israeli American Council and Atlanta Fever Entertainment. Weber parents Karl and Julie Altmann worked with Icebox founder Scott Alterman and his wife Leslie to co-chair the event and were chosen because of their leadership and involvement in the Atlanta Jewish community.

Signs lined the streets around Piedmont Park advertising the event. The description of the event on the signs came from an idea in a meeting in which a leader mentioned what should be included on the sign, such as bands, falafel and technology, which was taken literally and put onto the advertising materials. (Sloane Warner/The RamPage)

The community partners were organized by the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, which also spearheaded the organization for the event. Federation’s Director of Israel and Overseas Roey Shoshan met with the hosts about becoming involved “about a year and a half ago,” as Julie Altmann said. She also said that “the concept sounded amazing so we all agreed immediately.” The Altmanns and Altermans attended many meetings to plan the event, but “most of [their] time and energy has gone into promoting the event to different groups within the community,” as Julie mentioned.

The entrance to Park Tavern was decorated with Israeli flags and balloons to show where the party was. (Sloane Warner/The RamPage)

Almost 3,000 people were expected to attend throughout the day, so registration and security were kept to a tight schedule. The doors to the ticket entrance opened at 10:30 on the morning of the event, and by 11:30, the security line had reached the back of the building. Once inside, attendees could enjoy children’s music on the upstairs stage or continue down the stairs and outside to the main event.

Signs directed party guests to the downstairs area for more activities. (Sloane Warner/The RamPage)

Downstairs, kosher food vendors cranked out hot dogs, hamburgers, falafel, barbecue and Parve ice cream. Some activities lasted all day, like face painting, writing Western Wall notes and Israeli fruit tasting, while other were at scheduled times, like a cooking demo with Chef Todd Ginsberg from The General Muir and Israeli bingo games.

Music was playing all day, with Atlanta Fever DJing downstairs and various bands playing throughout the facility. Julie Altmann was most excited to see “the Israeli Musical performers ‘Taking The Time,’ which won the Israeli version of American Idol.” Other bands included the “Billy Jonas Band,” “Shir Harmony” and “Exit 10,” all of which have a connection to the Jewish community.

There was a balance of families, teens and adults throughout the event, illustrating how Israel connects our entire community. As Julie Altmann said, “Israel is such an important part of all of our lives and to be able to celebrate its birthday with all different members of our community is very exciting.”