The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh will celebrate the State of Israel’s 73rd anniversary of independence with myriad programming this month.
The Yom Ha’atzmaut festivities start Sunday, April 11, when chef Paul Nires, who hails from the Pittsburgh sister region of Karmiel and Misgav in Israel, teaches Pittsburghers the ins and outs of cooking in the ways of the Galilee. The virtual session will run from 10 to 11 a.m. Nires will teach how to make pita, za’atar and fattoush salad. Recipes and ingredients are available on the Federation’s website.
Following the session, children are invited to take part in a Yom Ha’atzmaut event when the Federation hosts a special online reading of the book “Yerus Goes To Jerusalem,” from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.
A third event, scheduled for Thursday, April 15, will take a look at the ethnography and socio-political character of Israel, said Kim Saltzman, director of Israel and overseas operations for the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.
The “TedTalk”-style session with journalist and photographer Erez Kaganovitz, will focus on Kaganovitz’s series “Humans of Israel,” which has made a splash on social media. Kaganovitz brought an exhibition of his photos to Pittsburgh in 2017, with shows at Rodef Shalom Congregation, Seton Hill University, Upper St. Clair High School and the Artsmiths, formerly in Mt. Lebanon.
“A lot of our events are focusing on diversity in Israel — and this is another one,” Saltzman told the Chronicle, speaking from Israel. “This will be a really interesting hour-long session with him, featuring people from all walks of life, to see the really diverse side of Israel.”
The Kaganovitz session runs from 1 to 2 p.m.
Those looking to delve further into Israel’s independence story can see and hear a video of the historic declaration of independence for Israel, complete with English subtitles, on the Federation’s website.
During the coming week, Federation also will mark Yom Ha’zikaron, Israel’s official “remembrance day.” The holiday was enacted into law in 1963, and traditionally paid homage to fallen soldiers, though commemoration now extends to civilian victims of terrorism as well.
The Federation’s virtual Yom HaZikaron events start at 8 p.m. April 13 and include poetry readings, music and stories of fallen soldiers, Saltzman said.
“Because it’s taking place virtually, we can have participants from Israel taking part, too,” she said.
Saltzman said she is pleased with the amount of diverse programming the Federation has managed to pull together for Pittsburgh Jews — despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“Hopefully, next year, we’ll be able to celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut in person,” she said. “But celebrating virtually is better than not celebrating at all.” PJC
Justin Vellucci is a freelance writer living in Pittsburgh.