Yom Haatzmaut, Israel’s Independence day, began on the eve of Wednesday, May 8 and continued into Thursday, May 9 this year. Following Jewish tradition, the holiday begins at sunset and ends at the following sunset.
At Weber, Yom Haatzmaut is an important day for the community because of the school’s mission to support the people and state of Israel. This year’s Yom Haatzmaut celebration at Weber was held on the Friday following the holiday, and it’s safe to say many students enjoyed it.
Students followed their regular schedule on Friday and during the allotted time for Kehillah, they reported to the gym instead of to the basement for an assembly. While a slideshow was displayed on the wall, students filled in and took their seats. The first half of the event consisted of multiple videos and presentations directed to educate the school on the history of the State of Israel as well as the importance of preserving the independence. When asked if he enjoyed the program, junior Joey Rubanenko stated, “Yes, the music was astounding and many of the videos were hilarious. They played a video of Conan and I really appreciated it because not only is he a fellow ginger, but he is also one of my favorite comedians.”
The next section of the event was a military boot camp simulation run by two former Israeli Defence Force commanders. The commanders taught students how to correctly stand and run drills. Sophomore Jolie Abadi enjoyed the activity and said that she “learned that the IDF boot camp prior to service is very serious.”
Lastly, students gathered in the cafeteria for a complimentary lunch that was catered by the local Mediterranean restaurant Pita Grill. The buffet of food included traditional Israeli salad, falafel, pita and other compliments such as hummus. Many students and faculty enjoyed the food and when asked if she was satisfied with the cuisine Abadi replied, “Yes! I really enjoyed the pita and falafel.”
The celebration was in the work for weeks and took much preparation. Hebrew teacher, Israel Programs Coordinator and Senior Seminar Facilitator Michal Ilai was the brains behind the program. When asked what motivated her to organize this whole event, Ilai replied, “My motive to create this event was the celebration of Yom Haatzmaut (Israel’s 71st independence) with our school community.” Ilai then went on to explain that “[she] prepared by meeting [her] Israel leadership students – the Rams for Israel; by deciding the theme for the program and by working on every detail with the students. [They] also reached out to various volunteers in the Israeli community.”
Overall, the Yom Haatzmaut program was a hit, and many students, as well as faculty, look forward to more celebrations in the future.