WHITEFISH BAY – Wisconsin will celebrate Israel at 70 on Sunday, April 22, with a two-mile Walk for Israel and activities for kids, plus free hats and cake.
The Walk for Israel attracts several hundred people annually, serving as the largest celebration of Israel in the state.
This annual Yom HaAtzmaut event – marking Israeli Independence Day – will start with the walk leaving from the north parking lot at the Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center, 6255 N. Santa Monica Blvd. in Whitefish Bay.
After community members form the shape of Israel near the basketball courts there at 3 p.m., the walk will take them through the local neighborhood. Organizers hope to take a highly visible route, but the plan is always kept flexible and is never released in advance, for security reasons.
Milwaukee Jewish Federation and the JCC, the organizations behind the event, will be distributing free Israel-at-70 hats before the walk, as supplies last. The walk starts and ends at the JCC and parking is expected to be available there.
This year, some will carry helium balloons or will wear helium-filled costumes on the walk. “We’re jazzing up the walk a little,” said Rabbi Hannah Wallick, Milwaukee Jewish Federation vice president of outreach, Israel and overseas.
After the walk, organizers plan a Community Celebration from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on the first floor of the west side of the JCC. Look for activities in the open area near the CAFA B DATA and in the Daniel M. Soref Community Hall, all on the first floor.
“We are going to have fun activities for kids, including face painting, balloon animals, gaga pit and a roaming magician,” Wallick said. The magician, Danny Dubin, will also perform on stage.
Israeli musical artist Rami Feinstein will perform and camel rides will be available outside. Food will be available for purchase, in addition to the free cake.
A return to the JCC
After two years in Downtown Milwaukee, the annual Walk for Israel is returning this year to the North Shore.
“Some people loved it Downtown. Some people missed it on the North Shore,” Wallick said. “We wanted to respond to multiple constituencies.”
Israeli independence was declared on May 14, 1948, which is the fifth day of Iyar on the Hebrew calendar. The local Walk for Israel and accompanying activities at the JCC are being held Sunday, April 22, which is close to the Hebrew calendar date.
Milwaukee Jewish Federation will also mark 70 years of Israel on the actual fifth day of Iyar, which this year falls on April 19, with a celebration in the Milwaukee City Hall rotunda. A mayoral proclamation celebrating 70 years of Israel is expected. The 1 p.m. event is open to the public. A photography exhibit, “Israel: Then and Now,” is to be on display in the rotunda throughout that week.
“Israel is a 70-year-old miracle and we want to celebrate her at every opportunity,” Wallick said.
“I don’t think there’s any other 70-year-old country in the world that has made as big a mark on the world scene and done more for the progress of humanity than Israel. Even with all of Israel’s imperfections I don’t think you can say that for any other nation. I think that’s a source of pride of the Jewish people.”
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How to go
What: Walk for Israel and Community Celebration – Israel at 70.
When: Sunday, April 22, with Walk for Israel at 3 p.m. and Community Celebration from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Where: Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center, 6255 N. Santa Monica Blvd. in Whitefish Bay.
Cost: Free (food available for purchase).