In 1978, on the 30th anniversary of the founding of Israel, Baltimoreans decided to throw a party. Myriad events took place from April 6 until June 22 throughout the community. The Baltimore Jewish Council and the Baltimore Zionist Federation organized a gala concert at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, featuring the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra. The following day, Israel Independence Day, there was a community-wide candle lighting ceremony at the Inner Harbor, with elected officials, Israeli dignitaries, and thousands of supporters holding candles made in Kiryat Gat, one of Baltimore’s twin cities in Israel. Other events included a 10K run for Israel, guest speakers and community party at Har Sinai, with free birthday cake. At the candle lighting event, participants read this anniversary prayer:
May your light sustain Israel’s yearning soul;
May your light reflect Israel’s historic memory;
May your light emblazon Israel’s undying hope;
May your light clarify Israel’s search for truth;
May your light strengthen Israel’s pursuit of justice;
May your light redeem Israel’s oldest prayer- for peace;
So may your light shine for Israel and for all humanity.
In 2013, Baltimore hosted another major celebration to honor Israel’s 65th birthday. Israel65. Celebrate!, took over the Rosenbloom Owings Mills campus, for a day-long festival that would be the precursor to the JCC’s widely successful block party. The highlight of the event – an evening concert featuring popular reggae and alternative rock musician Matisyahu – in which tens of thousands came out.
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