By: Barry Shrage, President of CJP
Last weekend, we celebrated Israel with more than 3,000 of our closest friends – Israeli, Bostonian, American, Jew, Christian, Muslim, old, young and in-between.
It was a phenomenal event that covered two stages and involved the work of hundreds of exceptional volunteers. It was also a “phenomenal” weather event (forecasts suggested some showers; at one point we were worried “Noah’s Ark Petting Zoo” would need an actual ark!).
Through pouring rain, whipping wind and smart phone alerts about flash floods, we came together and had fun eating, dancing, drumming, singing and sharing our love of Israel as part of a wonderful community.
It reminded me of last summer, one of the most recent times we came together. Then, we weren’t celebrating, but rather standing with Israel as they were bombarded with ceaseless rockets, mortars and cross-border tunnel attacks.
Boston’s Jewish community pulled together perhaps the most significant rally in the country. As we stood together in City Hall Plaza, the rain fell then too, but ended with a magnificent double rainbow. I took this to be a sign of God’s continuing concern and love.
Last Sunday, the rain started and it didn’t stop. There was no obvious rainbow, but I saw the double rainbow in the smiles of hundreds of children and thousands of happy people. I saw the rainbow in the amazing reality of Israeli and American Jews working together and creating bonds that will last forever. I saw the rainbow in the dedication of staff, volunteers and leaders living out their devotion to our community and our shared love of Israel despite the mud, rain and cold.
We saw the smiles, laughs and dancing of hundreds of children who packed every seat and floor space at the second stage. We heard from the Patriots Julian Edelman about his upcoming trip – his first visit – to see Israel for himself. We shot baskets with “The Jewish Jordan” Tamir Goodman. We heard beautiful and stirring performances from Israeli and American dancers and singers.
One of the best outcomes of last week’s program was a giant step toward a true working relationship between the American and Israeli-American communities. The Israeli American Council was a true partner in creating the event, as they were during the Gaza war last summer and in all we did to support Israel during that difficult time. Their love and camaraderie were amazing and filled me with hope!
I can’t thank enough all of the people who worked for months to put this together. Great work under ideal circumstances is commendable, but delivering a great event under challenging circumstances is the real test of greatness. I am completely grateful to all our amazing staff who spent long hours putting this together and volunteered their time at our celebration. I thank our chairs – David and Rachel Fine, Daniel and Wendy Kraft, Sharon Mishkin and Mark Rosenzweig – who worked tirelessly to bring it all together along with our entire event committee. We worked closely with the Consulate General of Israel to New England. We had too many community partners to mention, but you can find them all here. It wouldn’t have been possible without our sponsors, El Al, Bernie and Phyls, Israel Bonds, Print Resource, Duffy Properties, The Jewish Advocate, Kappy’s Fine Wine and Spirits and Isaac’s Moving and Storage.
Finally, I am grateful to all of you who attended, helped spread the word on social media, brought your children and shared with them a little piece of what makes Israel a modern miracle.
If you haven’t seen photos yet, check out our album on Facebook to see some of the day’s highlights.
I look forward to our next time together, as a community, hopefully in celebration and without umbrellas!
About the Author
A passionate advocate for Jews in Greater Boston and around the world, CJP President Barry Shrage has worked tirelessly to create an inclusive community and drive positive change.