Tampa plans cool Israel Independence Day party
For the first time the Bryan Glazer Family JCC, when opened late last year after a $30 million transformation from the historic Fort Homer Hesterly Armory, will host the celebration.
There will be plenty of events for adults and kids, booths for local Jewish organizations and, in a large air/conditioned tent connected to the JCC there will be food and music. There is no admission charge or fee for any of the activities during the day’s celebration, running from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
The lone event that includes an outdoor feature is the “Race through Israel” triathlon. Entrants, 8 and older, will circle the elevated indoor JCC track during an imaginary run toward Haifa, ride exercise cycles as they go “biking through Jerusalem,” then head to the outdoor Mezrah Family Aquatic Center’s pool to go “swimming in the Dead Sea.”
The “Race through Israel” and is open to both members and non-members of all ages and fitness levels. Participants in the race will be divided into three age groups.
For children under 8, there will be a mini-triathlon, which will deviate from the traditional format. Children will complete an obstacle course as an alternative activity to the biking station and their race will conclude with collecting toys in the splash pad. Participation ribbons will be awarded to all finishers of the mini-triathlon.
The Glazer JCC staff requests that race entrants come with tennis shoes and a swimsuit.
Online registration is required to participate in the triathlon. Register at jewishtampa.com/IID.
About 1,500 are expected to turn out for the celebration, with the theme, “Experiencing Israel.”
Food and beverages, including Israeli fare prepared by the JCC catering staff, will be available for purchase.
DJ John Wendleken will spin tunes all day and there will be an Israeli beer and wine tasting event and cooking demonstrations by Jim Rice, lead chef at the Glazer JCC, and his staff members.
There will be a replica of the Western Wall made from shoe boxes and those attending the event are invited to write and place prayers in the “Wall.” The prayers will be collected and a volunteer will deliver them to the real Western Wall in Jerusalem.
Jewish National Fund officials will staff a table where folks can buy a tree in Israel and there will be nearby area run by JCC staffers who will help children plant seeds to take home and grow.
A variety of local Jewish organizations will also set up informational booths and at one station tefillin wrapping will be offered and at another there will be an opportunity to write a note to an Israel Defense Forces soldier. Those notes will later be sent to IDF soldiers.
There will be three local residents, ages 25, 27 and 29, who were Israelis who served in the IDF and have since moved to the Tampa Bay area. They, and one local American young man who had volunteered to serve in the IDF and will be going to Israel soon, will discuss what it means to serve in defense of Israel.
Calvin Roe photography will have a green screen photo booth with the backgrounds of Israel.
A special youth area will be set up, offering myriad games and activities for children of all ages, including AliTots song and play hour, a PJ Library storytime, face-painting, crafts, Lego building, art lessons and Israeli games geared for older children.
Rabbi Mendy Dubrowski of Chabad Chai of South Tampa will offer scribe lessons. Visitors will be shown the process involved in writing the Torah on parchment and then they can try it themselves.
Yet another feature will be a huge drum circle, where Jana Broder of Drum Magic will teach those who want to try it, how to drum together.
Another highlight will be a Skype session at 11 a.m. with award-winning Israeli author Gavriel Savit, with a discussion of his children’s book, Anna And The Swallow Man. The book is about a girl in Poland who is left orphaned at age 7 in 1939 when Nazis take her father to a concentration camp. It chronicles how she and a mysterious “Swallow Man” hide for the next four years in a forest.
In addition, there will be the 3 p.m. showing of the movie On the Map, as part of the 21st annual Tampa Bay Jewish Film Festival. On the Map tells the story of an unforgettable upset victory by the Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team against a Cold War adversary. Demoralized by the Yom Kippur War, the Munich massacre, and its sagging economy, Israel was hungry for a collective triumph as it pursued the 1977 European Championship Tournament. Facing impossible odds, the underdog Maccabi Tel Aviv team, comprised of Israeli players and NBA also-rans, is matched up against the powerhouse Soviets in the semifinals. In a David-and-Goliath battle, the Israelis topple the four-time defending Soviet champs, and in doing so, rally a nation. The so-called “Miracle on Hardwood” is thrillingly related by team captain and Israeli basketball hero Tal Brody, NBA great Bill Walton, former NBA Commissioner David Stern, and former Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, along with other observers from the sports and political worlds.
The Glazer JCC is at 522 N Howard Ave., Tampa. Limited free parking is available directly on the property; other parking is available across the street at the Villa Brothers Park. Since the Glazer JCC is an indoor facility, the celebration will go on rain or shine.
For more information, visit www.jewishtampa.com or call the Tampa JCCs & Federation at (813) 264-9000.