• Greenwich Celebrates Israel Independence Day With Flag Raising And Ceremony

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    On Tuesday, May 14th, Greenwich residents of all faiths gathered at Greenwich Town Hall to celebrate the 76th birthday and independence of Israel. The event focused on standing with Israel, a U.S. ally in the Middle East, and to stand up against antisemitism. 

    The event was organized by Dr. Michael Goldstein and his son Jonathan to bring additional awareness to the importance of Israel, how Israel's democracy parallels the United States, and Israel's significance as a strategic ally and partner - the only real U.S. ally in the Middle East. Since Israeli Memorial Day 2023 (Yom Hazikaron), 834 civilians have been killed.

    The event started off with a moving prayer by Rabbi Kevin Peters from Temple Sholom that showed support for Israel.

    Afterwards, a message from MK Ohad Tal, a member of the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) was played for the audience. MK Tal’s message was to share appreciation for those in attendance who supported Israel during this challenging time. 

    He stated that he was “glad that many faiths are represented here and Israel is a country where all religions coexist including more than 2 million Muslims. It has been a challenging time since October 7th."

    He also noted that he has “witnessed so much love and support for the Jewish people and the state of Israel. We are a small but resilient nation and we will get past these challenges. Of most concern is the antisemitism we see on college campuses and on the streets throughout the US and the world. I know you are gathered here today to stand up to antisemitism while celebrating the independence of Israel. We Israelis support you just as much as you support us. I hope to make a special trip the next time I am in town to meet you and show appreciation on behalf of Israel and please keep up your support.”

    MK Tal also stated that in “Isaiah it is said that when the people of Israel come back to their homeland after their exile, they will make Jerusalem a house of prayer for all nations and this is the vision of all Israelis.”

    Dr. Michael Goldstein gave an overview of the history of Israel and explained the Hamas Charter, the nature of the conflict, and the deep seated ingrained ideology. He highlighted the importance of Israel as an ally and partner in technology, medicine and advanced military equipment, along with the benefits to the United States. He also explained that Israel is a democracy that celebrates the same freedoms and individual rights that we enjoy in the United States. He stressed why it was important for the U.S. to support Israel.

    Rabbi Deren of Chabad delivered a meaningful message about the history of Israel and the nature of the land that belongs to the Jewish people. He explained that all religions recognize the Jewish homeland and that for those to live together it was a matter of understanding that it was Jews allowing others to live on their land and not the other way around and the biblical and historic significance of Israel to the Jewish people. He also stressed the ideology issues in Gaza.

    Zahava Gordon, an Israeli who came to America and settled in Greenwich, expressed her love for Israel that she called her mother. She explained the importance of support and her love for the country where she was born and the nation she defended as a member of the Israel Defense Forces before coming to the United States.  She also stated that she has a lot of family in Israel and calls them on a daily basis. 

    State Senator Ryan Fazio delivered a powerful message to the community on the importance of standing with Israel and supporting its right to defend herself. He also mentioned that he went to the October 7th exhibit on the Nova Music Festival. He watched the footage of senseless Hamas terrorists searching room by room to find civilians to kill. He appreciated those in attendance who were standing up for the Jewish people and against antisemitism. 

    The ceremony concluded by playing, Hatikvah, the Jewish national anthem and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

    The program also highlighted that it was National Law Enforcement Week and that it was important to thank our first responders and the Greenwich Police that keep Greenwich safe.

    After the ceremony concluded, the celebration continued with enjoying some modern Israeli music, including the Eurovision song Hurricane by Eden Golan. That song and the attention to Eden Golan and Israel was another demonstration of antisemitism in a music contest and the ability for Israel and the Jewish people to rise above the hatred and persevere much like those do when they chant the solidarity anthem Am Yisrael Chai meaning “The People of Israel Live”.

    It should be noted that this event was different than the May 13th Israel Independence event and program run by UJA-JCC Greenwich. As reported in the Patch: 

    "The event was approved earlier this year as part of the Board of Selectmen's review of flag raisings.” 

    A review of the minutes of the Board of Selectman meetings reveal that the flag raising was a result of an effort initiated by Dr. Goldstein to preserve the date for the Israeli flag raising which was not on the initial list of flags published earlier this year.  Dr. Goldstein took the initiative to the Board of Selectman and it was unanimously approved.

    As reported in the Greenwich Free Press, Dr. Goldstein requested that the town raise the Israeli flag to mark Israeli Independence Day on May 14th.

    “This is for Israeli independence,” Camillo told the Free Press. “I don’t want people calling in saying it’s a political statement or anything like that. It’s just out of respect for one of our allies in the Middle East.”

    “There is a significant number of Jewish citizens in Greenwich who take pride in Israel and would be disappointed if the flag were not flown. Israel is obviously a country with a long history getting back to almost 4,000 years and recently became independent in 1948. It’s the only democracy in the Middle East,” Goldstein said.

    A coordinated effort followed between the town, Dr. Goldstein and the UJA-JCC which resulted in solidifying the support of the Town of Greenwich for Israel, the Jewish community of Greenwich and those of all faiths that support Israel.

    The result of this effort is that the Israeli flag raising is part of the permanent list of flags to be raised and will be raised annually for Israeli Independence Day.

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    J J

    It's shameful to see the celebration of another country's Independence Day in the US. It doesn't matter what that country is - Israel, Mexico, whatever. Only one Independence Day should be celebrated in the US. To do otherwise is to relinquish sovereignty.

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