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April 23, 2021 10:51 am

Celebrating Israel’s 73rd Birthday

avatar by Ayelet Raymond

Opinion

People watch a fireworks display kicking off celebrations for Israel’s Independence Day, marking the 73rd anniversary of the creation of the state, in Tel Aviv, Israel April 14, 2021. REUTERS/Corinna Kern

Last Sunday, Times Square was painted in blue and white, as people of all ages gathered together to celebrate Israel’s 73rd Independence Day, or Yom Ha’atzmaut. Hundreds of people were holding Israeli flags and dancing to spirited Israeli music.

The New York Israeli-American Council (IAC) hosted this festive celebration. Costumed characters resembling Theodor Herzl, David Ben-Gurion, and Golda Meir were the life of the party, as they bobbed their heads and posed with attendees.

The IAC volunteers distributed masks to the crowd, and made sure the children were entertained by the “Magical Stilt Walker” and a “balloonologist.”

In past years, there had been a festive parade with thousands marching down Fifth Avenue. This year’s Independence Day celebration was smaller but no less energetic. Individual volunteers drove a caravan of cars starting from the Upper East Side and meeting up in Times Square.

But amid all of the costumed characters depicting Israeli heroes, and all of the people celebrating 73 years of Israeli independence, one miniature baby Pomeranian named “Kiss” also got a lot of attention from the children in attendance.

As Kiss’ owner, I explained to them that my dog is named “Kiss” for the Hebrew word for pocket — because she is small enough to fit inside of one. I know I am a little biased — but I was so proud to bring her to celebrate Israeli Independence Day, and to provide some small joy for Jewish and Israeli children who came to celebrate with us. (And just like Kiss, I know many of them love Israeli Bamba treats, which were eaten by people at the event — and my dog!)

As an Israeli Jew living in America, I am so proud of both countries — and everyone at the celebration felt the same way. Even amid COVID-19, I was glad that we all found a safe, and joyous, way to celebrate.

Ayelet Raymond is a film and musical director who lives in New York City. She collaborated with young Broadway performers to create the American children’s television show My Hebrewland. She is the creative force behind the Kosher Barbie character and social media personality.

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