Pittsburghers racing toward Yom Ha’atzmaut
Games, activities, bounce house and race all part of local Israel Independence Day celebrations
Pittsburghers are racing toward Israel’s birthday. With the Jewish state marking 75 years of independence, the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh is inviting community members to celebrate at Schenley Oval on April 30 with a Yom Ha’atzmaut: Run/Walk/Roll.
“This is the first time we are ever doing a Run/Walk/Roll, and the deadline is coming up,” Adam Hertzman, Federation’s director of marketing, said. Participation in the 5K race (or 750-meter kids run) is $12 per adult and $5 per child. Race registration closes April 18. General admission for activities only is free.
“You don’t have to just come out and race,” Hertzman said. “There is a lot to do, including games, activities tables and the traditional bounce house, which all the kids love.”
The event comes amid a period of “political upheaval” in Israel, Hertzman said, “and it is an especially important time to recognize that we can and should still support Israel’s right to exist as a democratic Jewish state.”
For 15 weeks, hundreds of thousands of Israelis have protested the Israeli government’s proposed judicial overhaul.
The Times of Israel reported that demonstrations this week will occur outside the home of prominent politicians, “along with other protests at 150 locations around the country.”
Hertzman said the April 30 celebration at Schenley Oval should serve as a reminder to Pittsburghers.
“The Jewish Federation has never supported the government of Israel,” he said. “We support the people of Israel and people-to-people connections between Pittsburghers and Israelis. Israel is the Jewish homeland, and when we come together in a public space we are telling the world that you can support Israel no matter your political leanings.”
Organizers of the Federation’s Yom Ha’atzmaut event pointed to various Israel-related activities, which have little to do with Knesset decisions, coalitions or the Israeli Supreme Court. Participants will be able to make Israeli-themed arts and crafts, enjoy Israeli line dancing and learn more about the Jewish state from the Shinshinim (four teenage Israeli ambassadors living in Pittsburgh).
“It’s easy for people to get caught up in talking about the politics of Israel and to forget that it is the Jewish homeland and has been for thousands of years,” Hertzman said.
Along with there being “emotional connections to Israel as the Jewish homeland,” Pittsburghers have personal connections, he continued. “There are relatives, friends, friends that we’ve met through travel back and forth between Pittsburgh and Israel, business connections, so there’s a lot to Pittsburgh’s relationship with Israel.”
Apart from celebrating 75 years of statehood, or a connection spanning thousands of years, there is another important reason to show up at Schenley Park on April 30, Hertzman continued: “This is a way of showing Jewish pride.”
Registration for the Run/Walk/Roll is available at jewishpgh.org/event/run-walk-roll-for-israel-at-75/. PJC
Adam Reinherz can be reached at [email protected].