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Israeli Independence Celebration Slated for the Upper West Side

By Emily Frost | April 4, 2013 7:49am

UPPER WEST SIDE — The largest celebration in the city of Israel's independence is scheduled to be held on the Upper West Side this month, organizers said.  

The festival, "The UWS Celebrates Israel at 65," will run from April 11 through the 16th, according to the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan. It is free to the public, with the exception of a finale concert at Symphony Space.

"For the first time ever, there are about 20 Upper West Side institutions that are coming together and featuring a four-day celebration," said Erica Werber, senior director of public relations at the JCC in Manhattan. 

The festival is a first for the neighborhood, Werber said.

"There was never any kind of real community celebration on the Upper West Side," she said. "It was always just the parade and individual Jewish schools and synagogues, but never have this many organizations come together." 

Throughout the festival, children and adults can take advantage of free classes in Israeli culture, martial arts, cooking, storytelling sessions, conversations about philosophy and in Hebrew. Jazz performances, drumming circles and cross-genre sounds will also take center stage.

The biggest day is April 14 when three separate street fairs are scheduled to be held across the Upper West Side, recreating the feel of the open air Tel Aviv market complete with camels, dancing, food and art, Werber said.

The three Sunday street fairs are scheduled to occur at Columbia University's Morningside Heights campus, on West 76th Street between Amsterdam and Columbus avenues, and on West 100th Street between Broadway & West End Avenue. 

Parents should take note that there will be a bouncy house for kids right outside the JCC, Werber said.

As part of the celebration, foodies can enjoy coupons from local businesses that are either Israeli-owned or sell Israeli products. 

The festival promises more than the traditional parade.

"The only thing you can do in a parade is watch it, and with this you’re going to be immersed in it," Werber said. "You’re going to get a taste of Israel, for sure."

The $150,000 festival has been sponsored by the UJA Federation of New York, Werber said.

A full schedule of festival events, including details for the Symphony Space concert featuring Grammy Award Winner Miri Ben-Ari on Tuesday, April 16, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. can be found here.