Jewish community celebrates independence; remembers Holocaust

Here’s the press release:

Jewish Community Celebrates Independence; Remembers Holocaust
Full day of activities include festival, races, film and concert.

Asheville, North Carolina, April 8, 2012—On Sunday, April 29th 2012, a diverse group of people will gather at Congregation Beth Israel for the Eighth Annual Celebration Israel Festival, which, this year, marks 64 years since the Jewish homeland was recognized as an independent state. Since the event’s inception, Celebration Israel has grown from a small Jewish gathering to a large, intergenerational event attracting nearly 1,000 people—Jews and non-Jews alike—from throughout Western North Carolina. In addition, that morning, the Asheville Jewish Community Center (JCC) will host two foot races, while the evening concludes with Pan Harmonia presenting both a film and concert as part of their Holocaust Remembrance Series.

The outdoor, Celebration Israel festival will be held from 11:00 am to 3:30 pm on the grounds of Congregation Beth Israel’s Synagogue, located at 229 Murdock Avenue, Asheville. During this time, the shady, creek-side property across from Weaver Park will be transformed into a bustling Middle Eastern market.

Asheville’s Celebration Israel event is known for its mouth-watering Israeli food and beverages, including falafel and schwarma as well as Israeli beer. This year, continuous live music, acrobatic performances, and local arts & crafts will also be showcased, as will surprise appearances by local celebrities and famous figures from throughout Israel’s history. The Goldstein Family Band—who has gained popularity across the East Coast since launching their musical career two-years-ago at Celebration Israel—will release their newest CD. Their music, which is sung in five languages, includes rock classics, traditional Jewish favorites and modern Israeli music. Other musical performers include the Elihu Siegman Project, the acoustic guitar talents of Balagan, and the voices of approximately 75 local, Jewish children. An abundance of activities, including a bounce house, face painting and an archaeological dig await the festival’s child participants, as does Mr. Twister-Asheville, who will perform magic tricks and provide balloon art for children of all ages.

“We are particularly pleased with the support this festival enjoys from various faith communities throughout Asheville,” says Sally Gooze, Celebration Israel’s Event Chair. “It’s wonderful to see Western North Carolinians gathering to break falafel together as one community with an interest in learning more about Israel’s heritage. You certainly don’t have to be Jewish to join in the fun.”

Falafel 5K and Camp Ruach Fun Run—the Events before the Event:

The morning of April 29th, just prior to the opening of Celebration Israel, Asheville’s JCC will sponsor two races: the Falafel 5K & the Camp Ruach Fun Run. Participants will enjoy free meals or tickets for the children’s activities at Celebration Israel.

“It’s thrilling each year to see how much fun the families have participating together,” says Rochelle Reich, coordinator of the running events. “The JCC activities work-up their appetites and Celebration Israel then delivers an afternoon of food and fun!”

Holocaust Remembrance Series—the Event after the Event

Just after Celebration Israel concludes, Pan Harmonia presents its Elegy- Holocaust Remembrance Series: Celebrating the Creativity of the Human Spirit. This event, which will be held in the Manheimer Room at UNC-Asheville’s Reuter Center, will begin at 4:15 PM with the showing of Christopher Nupen’s award-winning film, “We Want the Light,” which is a story about freedom, survival and the extraordinary place of music in Nazi concentration camps. The movie will be followed at 5:30 pm with a concert featuring flutist Kate Steinbeck and pianist Kimberly Cann.

“Actors tell stories of what was and what can be with words. Musicians do it with sound, reflected Kate Steinbeck, Pan Harmonia flutist and artistic director. “We create the colors and vibrations that stir your heart and conjure the images in your head. It is vitally important for us to remember and to play music by those whose voices were silenced. They created so much beauty and light with their music, that they must simply not be forgotten.” Both the film and concert are free to the public.

Congregation Beth Israel—a member of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism—is a welcoming and egalitarian community devoted to the principle of an intentioned and meaningful Jewish life, expressed through our core values of education, spirituality, celebration, and social justice. The synagogue is located at 229 Murdock Avenue, Asheville.

About Jake Frankel
Jake Frankel is an award-winning journalist who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

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