By: Sergio CarmonaContact Reporter
Hundreds of people recently celebrated the Jewish holiday of Lag B'Omer with their families at Temple Kol Ami Emanu-El in Plantation .
The holiday takes place annually on the 33rd day of the Omer, between the major Jewish holidays of Passover and Shavuot.
The celebration at TKAE was presented in partnership between the synagogue and the Israeli-American Council. It included a bonfire, arts and crafts, drum circle, games, bounce house and music by DJ Sean and performer Noam Agami.
Dvir Weiss, the synagogue's executive director who is a native of Israel, said at the celebration, "For me, Lag B'Omer was the best holiday in Israel when I was growing up because it's fun for the children as you have a bonfire, you have activities and you have barbecues."
"Here at the celebration, the kids are happy, and that's what it's all about," Weiss continued. "We want the kids to be happy, and through them, we're also getting the adults having a good time here as well."
Weiss noted that the typical Jewish American at this Reform synagogue doesn't normally celebrate the holiday as it's more common in the Orthodox Jewish community.
"By celebrating the holiday, we're opening up ourselves to the Reform and secular Jewish community and exposing them to a fun event," he said.
This event is one of several that the synagogue has partnered on to host with IAC's Florida Office.
"This is an exposure for us to the entire Jewish community and it is something good for the IAC because basically it exposes what the IAC is all about to the entire Jewish community as well," Weiss said.
Shelley Benizri, IAC's Florida programs manager, called the organization's partnership with the synagogue as a "blessing" and a "match made in Heaven."
"It allows us to really reach the community," she continued. "We've done a lot of projects with them, and I think this allows us to maximize our message, because we're working with an organization that has a large community that we're trying to reach, which are Israeli-Americans and Jewish Americans with kids because, we're focusing on the next generation. When we work together, we strengthen each other."
Benizri thought the turnout and ambiance at the celebration was fantastic.
"There was something very Israeli to it. It's not a holiday that a lot of Jewish Americans celebrate as it's something more celebrated in Israel. But having events like this that include both Jewish American and Israeli American communities brings us together, and the attendees, including the Jewish Americans I talked to, loved it. They wanted to make sure that we're having one next year."
Benizri concluded, "The celebration created a fun environment for the children to experience the holiday."
Smadar Hefter, a volunteer for the synagogue's Gesher program who attend the celebration with her children, said, "I like the environment. It's a very warm, welcoming community atmosphere."
Hefter, who also grew up in Israel, also said about the celebration, "I like the fact that my kids are feeling the traditions that I grew up in. They're celebrating the holiday the Israeli way."
Valeria Michanie, director for the synagogue's religious school and Gesher program, said regarding what she feels a celebration like this means for the congregation's children, "The stronger we connect and bond with Israel and Jewish traditions, the better the chance that the kids are going to be willing to lead and be proud to be Jewish."
"Our goal here is basically to build community."
Visit tkae.org for more information on the synagogue. Visit israeliamerican.org/florida for more information on IAC Florida.
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