It was standing room only as parents, grandparents, friends, teachers, administrators, and the stars of the show, the students, crammed into the gymnasium for the Hebrew Academy of the Long Beach’s celebration of Israel at 70 on April 19.
The Jewish state was established on May 14, 1948, less than three years after the end of World War II and the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps, which were part of the killing machine that was the Holocaust.
From ancient Israel to the contemporary iteration, Rabbi Uriel Lubetski, principal of the middle school, said that the Jewish people have drawn their hope and dreams of returning to the Holy Land from their “deep faith in Hashem (God).” “The Jewish people are masters of resiliency,” Lubetski said, referring to how much adversity they have endured.
The rabbi’s serious tone gave way to the fun and entertainment provided by the students in grades first through eighth. It ranged from the eighth-grade boys performing an Israel-style stomp ensemble to the fifth-grade choir singing the Tefila L’Sholom Hamedina prayer.
Olympian AJ Edelman, the four-time Israeli national champion in skeleton, who represented Israel at the 2018 Olympics, was a big hit as the fifth-grade boys chanted “AJ AJ” as he bounded on the stage. His message was as an athlete he has a strict regimen to train and then perform, he maintains a routine to practice Jewish customs. “Israel is about accomplishing things and overcoming our enemies,” he said.
Many people helped, but a substantial amount of credit for organizing the event was given to Shira Spigelman and Dafna Zabari.