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Not A ‘Hava Nagila’ Crowd

Not A ‘Hava Nagila’ Crowd

It’s not your zayde’s Yom Ha’Atzmaut.
Next Monday, New York’s Jewish community will hold its annual Israel Independence Day celebration, as usual, with singing and dancing. But the music will be contemporary, authentically Israeli.
“No ‘Hava Nagila,’ ” says Tzameret Fuerst, co-chair of the event and a founder of the half-year-old Dor Chadash organization that is the main sponsor of the celebration.
The dancing will be hip — probably no hora.
Even the setting will be a change from traditional, communal Yom Ha’Atzmaut gatherings at synagogues or JCCs. This one will be at Crobar, a mega-nightclub in midtown Manhattan.
The celebration of Israel’s 56th birthday will begin with a Yom HaZikaron memorial for Israel’s fallen soldiers, a formal address by Israeli UN Ambassador Dan Gillerman, and speeches by Israeli soldiers and terrorism victims at 7:30 p.m.
Thirty minutes later it will switch to an upbeat musical program, geared to the 25-to-45 age group, with an Israeli DJ and light Israeli kosher food at 8 p.m.
While supporters of Israel from all generations are welcome, the program “lends itself to a younger, hipper crowd,” says David Borowich, another founder of Dor Chadash and chairman of the J2J business-networking group.
The emphasis is a deliberate attempt to engage the interest of the post-college/pre-middle-age generation of Jews who are often missing from community activities, Borowich says.
Dor Chadash (, which is affiliated with Bnai Zion and has sponsored a series of popular film showings and holiday celebrations in the last six months, has lined up 45 Israeli and American-Jewish organizations as cosponsors of Monday’s event. They include religious and secular groups, left and right wing.
One of the cosponsors is the Israeli Consulate, which annually holds its own smaller, by-invitation-only celebration.
“Fighting the battle for Israel on a daily basis in the United Nations, it is heartwarming for me to see this display of unity from organizations across the ideological spectrum,” Gillerman says.
Dor Chadash was designed as a “bridge” between young American Jews and young Israelis living in the United States, says Fuerst, a Sabra with a background in product marketing who is chairing the celebration with Mark Moshe Bellows, a New York actor-producer.
“We all have a passion for Israel,” she says. “People are speaking [on behalf of Israel] with their feet.”
“Israel is at one of the most precarious moments in its history,” says Borowich, a New Yorker. “If the American Jewish community can’t be behind Israel, how can we expect anyone else to be behind Israel?”
The Yom Ha’Atzmaut celebration will be Dor Chadash’s biggest event. Crobar, decorated with balloons and Israeli flags, will include separate rooms for quiet discussions away from the music.
“It’s not just a dance,” Borowich says, stressing the preliminary memorial segment that is usually absent from Israeli Independence Day celebrations in this country. “I don’t feel that the American Jewish community understands the sacrifice that Israelis have made so we can celebrate Israel’s independence.”
Monday’s event will have no fund raising, no “political agenda,” he says. “We’re not pushing a religious agenda. We’re not pushing a secular agenda.”
Borowich says he will be looking for older faces in the crowd.
“If they want to see the torch being passed to the next generation,” he says, “they will feel very gratified being there.”

The Yom Ha’Atzmaut celebration will be held Monday, April 26, at Crobar, 530 W. 28th St., Manhattan, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door, $75 for VIP tickets. Proceeds go to the Bnai Zion Hospital Children’s Emergency Room. For information: (212) 706-0505 or 879-9305, Ext. 222; e-mail,

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