Young adults celebrate Israel Independence
About 900 attend Hagshama events across Australia
They were nights that would have made Theodore Herzl happy – in fact, he was happy, beaming through his beard as he danced to the beat of Israeli music and posed for pictures under the blue and white lights and balloons that were celebrating Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel Independence Day.
Herzl (rather, a likeness of him) was one of about 900 young adult Australian Zionists who attended parties across Australia that were organised by Hagshama, the young adult branch of the World Zionist Organization – Department of Diapora Activities and overseen in Australia by the Zionist Federation of Australia.
More than 400 partygoers each in Sydney and Melbourne danced, drank and chatted the night away, at the Fox and Lion Hotel in Sydney on 22 April, and at Boutique Nightclub in Melbourne on 25 April. About 50 in Perth attended the Jewish Centre on 21 April.
“This is the most important day of the year in terms of celebrating Zionism,” said Hagshama Australia National Director Mirit Frenkel. “The enthusiasm that the community displayed at these parties – from the various young adults organisations who partnered with Hagshama on these events, to the attendees of the parties who are at different ages and come from different backgrounds — is just admirable. Its inspiring to see so many young adults across the country so passionate about Israel and about coming together as Jewish people.”
At Sydney’s “Israel Unplugged,” Israel’s high-tech and innovation culture emanated with green laser lights, computer parts decorations, Wii Mario Cart on a big screen, a Funky Foto Booth, and “Mega bytes” and “Micro chips” (variety of nibblies). A “Silent Disco” room allowed enthusiasts to don headphones as they moved to the beat with others. Hagshama spearheaded the event, with collaboration from 15 other community organisations.
Melbourne’s “Out of the Blue” transformed the South Yarra bar and nightclub into an imitation of Israeli night life. Blue and white balloons flooded the ceiling as a live band and 4 DJ’s played to a standing-room only crowd on the main dance floor for most of the night. In the middle of the night, the Israeli dance room opened to wide appeal, especially for Herzl – played by Yiftach Nenner, the Melbourne Betar Shaliach. Hagshama spearheaded the event with collaboration from Next UIA, JNFuture, AUJS, ZYC and ZFA Israel Programs-Masa Israel Journey.
“The party was a great opportunity for young adults to socialise, enjoy themselves and celebrate Israel,” said Melbourne Hagshama Coordinator Adva Weinstein. “This type of event really strengthens the sense of community for young adults and is, all the while, a whole lot of fun. We enjoyed an extremely productive and positive cooperation effort between several of the young adult organisations, and our efforts paid off.”
In Perth, “The Pioneers” theme encouraged participants to dress as old-school Zionist heroes, and like the old Zionists, under a tent and on the grass, they danced and sang songs together late into the night.
“We attracted several individuals who had not attended Hagshama WA events before, and we look forward to capitalising on this success in the coming months,” said Hagshama Western Australia Coordinator Ryan Steed.
1. Melbourne: Yiftach Nenner, standing next to Dana Aboaf, channels Theodore Herzl during “Out of the Blue,” Hagshama Melbourne’s Yom Ha’atzmaut party at Boutique Nightclub, 25 April 2012. Photo by Joshua Cole
2. Sydney: Shevy Eisman, Natalie Gershoig, Chaya Lucas, Shaul Hoffmann and Lotan Ma hold the Israeli flag at “Israel Unplugged,” Hagshama Sydney’s Yom Ha’atzmaut party at the Fox and Lion Hotel, 22 April 2012. Photo by Jonathan Davis