South Florida Jewish Schools Celebrate Israeli Independence
With the immense help and planning of the Falic family, the Hebrew Academy participated in the joyous occasion as students between second and 12th grade boarded a series of buses to join their regional peers at the stadium. Some students shared their thoughts and feelings in anticipation of the exhilarating event.
“I don’t really know what we’re gonna do yet, but I’m really excited because I know it’s gonna be really fun with all our friends here,” said Yehuda Cohen (9th grade). “It’s showing that we are proud to be Jews and we’re not afraid to stand up to the people that oppress us; that we stand together happily.”
All dressed and embellished with festive Israeli ‘swag,’ 3,500 students from twelve different Jewish day schools congregated at Marlins Stadium. The schools took turns parading around the field, marching in unison to commemorate the holiday. Over 900 guests attended as well, with dozens of parents and friends cheering in the stands and uniting as one.
Among these guests was Rabbi Shmuel Haber, a Biala Chassid who runs the Shtiebel Ostrova organization. He wishes to inspire youth, and will do so by voluntarily giving a shiur at the Hebrew Academy High School in Spanish starting next week. He expressed his feelings during the march around the stadium, saying, “It’s so nice to see all the Jewish people together demonstrating Ahavat Yisrael.”
The event was a true success as it fully encapsulated the gratitude, glory, and pride that each individual feels for the state of Israel during this very special time.
“Yom Ha’atzmaut is a time to come together as a unified group to recognize the greatness of Israel,” said Zoe Sugar (11th). “This day is all about being able to celebrate the everlasting Israeli culture with friends and family.”
The momentous ceremony included an exclusive video-message from Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and a special letter from United States President, Donald Trump. The audience watched and listened to their words in awe, appreciating the opportunity to connect and share their voices with those from different schools.
“It was a good way to bond and unite with other Jewish schools in South Florida,” Michaela Acevedo (9th) said. “This really just makes a difference because all our voices are heard when we’re together and the fact that we were all at one stadium, being recorded, with messages from Netanyahu and Trump just shows that people who are really important in the world really do care and see that we stand together as Jewish young adults that want to celebrate Israel for its seventy years of independence.”
Students from different schools shared their personal thoughts of this very unique and once in a lifetime opportunity. Gal Gottesmann, a ninth grader from Scheck Hillel, voiced how she was deeply touched by being able to partake in such a life-changing experience.
“Even though we’re not in Israel, it impacted us by seeing how much we can do despite being so far away. I thought it was so inspiring that it showed everyone how important we all are for Zionism and the state of Israel. That’s also how it changed me; by believing that you can do a lot more.”
Katz Yeshiva High School freshman Akiva Kroll also said, “It’s really nice how all the schools are together.”
Togetherness was truly the highlight of the day, as it was the most discussed aspect of the entire event. The great representation of unity throughout the stadium impressed and brought smiles to the faces of hundreds of guests. Standing strongly together, unified as one whole nation left most feeling unbelievably proud and content.
“I thought it was beautiful seeing all these kids together as the future of the Jewish people,” said Rabbi Ney. “Getting everyone together to celebrate Israel, what could be better than that?”
Former Head of School Dr. Roni Raab was present at the celebration. “It’s an unbelievable experience to have all these schools come together in the Jewish community,” he said. “It’s an incredible opportunity.”
The occasion was nothing short of spectacular, as a band of Israeli soldiers put on a full-fledged concert. An overwhelming rush of ruach was quick to spread throughout the audience while everyone engaged in singing and dancing. Dressed as the RASG Warrior mascot, Ron Ben-Hayoun (12th) animated those around him, adding to the abundance of thrill.
“Today being the mascot was a great experience,” said Ben-Hayoun. “To be on the field, leading the whole school, and dancing with the Marlins mascot was all very fun. I just really wanted to thank Tila Falic, Rabbi Assaraf and all the people that made everything possible.”
The festive Yom Haatzmaut celebration seemed to have a great impact on the school’s senior class. Serving as their last hurrah before they will bid farewell and make their way to the holy land, the created memories will definitely continue to resonate with them.
“It’s great to see how much love we all share for the state of Israel; it’s that love that makes me want to attend yeshivah next year,” said Yosef Nahon (12th). “I’m sad I won’t be part of something like this again, however I’m also happy, because I know while I’m in Israel I will show that same, if not greater, love for our homeland.”
Nothing could have been possible without the support, hard work, and love from those who helped to manage and organize the incredible program. Tila Falic hopes that celebrations just as extravagant as this one will continue on in the year to come.
“It’s not happiness of relief because its over; it’s actually so inspiring that I want to make it happen again every single year,” she said. “It’s gonna carry on hopefully from one year to the next and I would love for this to be the official way that Miami celebrates Israel. We want everyone to celebrate chag on Yom Haatzmaut.”
Rabbi Assaraf, another major contributor to the planning, shared his feelings of gratitude and satisfaction with how the entire event triumphed.
“It was the first time that I really remember seeing such a collaboration between all the Jewish schools. I think one of the speakers said it best: ‘We can disagree on many items but we all agree on Israel’ and therefore, it was the easiest thing to come together for. I’m so grateful to the Falic’s because we were able to have that little sweet ending by arranging that private barbeque and that was awesome all around. I don’t think there was anything I would’ve done differently.”
The exceptional program that was put together in order to celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut signified the Jewish people’s love for the state of Israel. It served as an amazing opportunity for all who attended to stand together as one people, all for one nation, for one country making us stronger than ever.
“As Jews, in every single generation someone tries coming after us, tries to destroy us, tries to eliminate us,” said Mary Berkowitz (9th). “But we still come back stronger every time so it’s just great to see that Medinat Yisrael is turning seventy and only getting stronger every year.”
By: Esther Nahon (9th Grade)