KaleidoFest offers taste of Israel (minus the passport)

A birthday is a cause for celebration, and when the birthday is the sixtieth anniversary of the State of Israel, the party takes on a life of its own. Even if you can’t get to Jerusalem next week to watch a nationwide laser light show and hear Barbra Streisand belt out Avinu Malkeinu live on stage, or to Radio City Music Hall in New York to enjoy another star-studded gala, Kaleidoscope Israel brings the Jewish State right here to St. Louis.

With KaleidoFest kicking off May 3 at the Jewish Community Center (JCC) Millstone Campus, families are invited to take advantage of a myriad of musical concerts, cultural activities, Israeli entertainment, hands-on learning exhibits, and so much falafel that even Shimon Peres would feel at home. To get the party started, a special Havdalah reception gives patrons plenty to sing about, especially when the magnificent tenor voice of Cantor Seth Warner, of Congregation Shaare Emeth, fills the room and whets everyone’s appetites for decadent desserts and wine.

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Another musical treat not to be missed during the birthday festivities is Israel’s very own leading international recording artist Noa, who will perform on May 13 at the University of Missouri-St. Louis campus. Considered the Celine Dion of Israel, Noa will delight the audience with traditional, Yemenite, Israeli, and American songs. The birthday entertainment extravaganza at the JCC, which runs through May 8, is the closest visitors get to Israel without a passport. Some of the highlights include an Israeli Artists Bazaar, a Middle Eastern cuisine buffet, a replica of the Shrine of the Book, a close-up view of the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit, and lots of Israeli dancing, singing, and comedy that appeals to all ages. Plus, participants can place individualized notes in the larger-than-life Western Wall, and their paper messages will be transported to the actual Kotel in Jerusalem.

Yom Ha’atzmaut, or Israel Independence Day, is on the fifth of lyar, the Hebrew date on which Israel declared statehood in 1948 after Britain ended 31 years of U.N.-mandated rule over Palestine. The secular date is May 14, 1948, and falls May 10 on the Jewish calendar this year. The celebration of the birth of Israel is not only an excuse to have a good time, but a valuable opportunity for today’s youth to better understand and appreciate their Jewish national history.

One way to teach children about the sacrifices that brave people have made to help establish the State of Israel is through acknowledging Yom HaZikaron, or Israel Memorial Day, which comes the day before Yom HaAtzma’ut. A powerful and emotional ceremony will be held on May 6 at the JCC to honor the soldiers and victims of terror who continue to give their lives to defend our homeland. This inspirational evening, which is free to the public, features a historical perspective of the six decades of wars of Israel.

For an updated calendar of Kaleidoscope Israel events throughout the year, visit www.cajestl.org, www.jewishinstlouis.org, or www.stljewishlight.com.

“Mishegas of Motherhood” is the creation of Ellie S. Grossman, a St. Louis freelance writer and stay-at-home-mom who never stays home. Currently, she is obsessing over the photo album of her son’s recent bar mitzvah, so please feel free to send any advice to: [email protected] or visit her website at www.mishegasofmotherhood.com.

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