Temple Har Shalom invites the public to celebrate Israel’s independence
The 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence will be celebrated on Friday, June 29, at Temple Har Shalom, 3700 N. Brookside Ct. The event is free and open to the public. For information, visit http://www.harshalomparkcity.org.
When Jews around the world celebrated the 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence on April 19, the staff at Park City’s Temple Har Shalom decided to wait until June 29.
“The reason why is because the Friends of the Israeli Scouts (Tzofim Friendship Caravan) will be in Utah,” said Rabbi David Levinsky. “We decided that it would be a good time for a community celebration.”
And a community celebration it will be, Levinsky said.
The event, which is free and open to the public, will start with a pre-party at 5:30 p.m. Services will start at 6:30 p.m. and the Caravan will perform at 7:30 p.m.
After the concert, Temple Har Shalom will host an afterparty, starting at 8:30 p.m.
“It’s a partnership with the Utah Jewish Federation, and it will be a long and fun night,” Levinsky said. “Like most Jewish events, we’ll have food, dancing and celebration.”
The food will be catered by a group of Israeli culinary artists from Salt Lake, Levinsky said.
“They will create the Israeli take on Middle Eastern food and serve falafel and the sort,” he said.
The dancing also has significance because it came into being relatively recently as Israel sought to carve out its own culture, according to Levinsky.
“Jewish dancing is a 20th century phenomenon, because even the Jews in Israel came from different countries,” he said. “Some came from Belarus. Some families have come from Yemen. So the dancing is a way to unify the culture. Every Jew knows these dances.”
Levinsky said Temple Har Shalom’s party is to also celebrate the “rich and diverse Israeli culture.”
“People conflate Israel with Jews, but it’s a surprisingly diverse culture,” he said. “Nearly 20 percent of Israel’s citizens are non-Jews. There are Christian and Muslim citizens.”
That diversity will also be reflected during the Tzofim Friendship Caravan performance.
“The performance group is not just Jewish,” Levinsky said. “Members include Arab-Muslim, Arab-Christian and Jewish members. And they will celebrate the tolerance of the State of Israel.”
The performance will give guests a different perspective of Israel.
“Too often Israel is in the news because of politics and not for culture,” Levinsky said. “This is the chance to do something different.”
The rabbi is grateful for the opportunity for Temple Har Shalom to host the party.
“Any time we do something that is publicly Jewish in Park City, it just feels beautiful,” he said. “The larger Jewish community is generally surprised to find out there is a Jewish community in Utah.”
On a more personal note, Levinsky said many Jews think of the establishment of the state of Israel in almost miraculous terms.
“I don’t think any of our great-grandparents would have thought it would have come into existence, especially following the disaster of the Holocaust,” he said. “So it’s wonderful that we’ve been embraced by Park City, and to have this chance to celebrate.”
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Daniel Thurston is Park City Library’s new Spanish services librarian.