Monday, May 9, 2011

City of Chesed

When folks ask me why I like my community, Efrat, I always answer the same thing - it's a capital of chesed (deeds of loving-kindness) and it has the warmest most wonderful people around, folks who each contribute to the general good.
Well, at the town-wide Yom HaAtzmaut ceremony last night for Israel's 63rd birthday, Efrat honored the superstars of chesed - each one lighting a lamp on the Yom HaAtzmaut torch.

The evening couldn't have started out stronger! It began with a dance by little girls called, "Yachad", (together) and that's what our town is all about - helping one another, reaching out to one another and taking the journey of Israel's eternity b'yachad (together). Kol hakavod to all the little darlings who danced so sweetly and sparkly-ly, and to their choreographer Jocelyn Odenheimer, who set the happy hometown tone for tonight's event.

Then the honorees were called to the stage:
** Eli Mizrachi - former Mayor and founder of the Keren Yeshua fund to help Efrat's needy
** Rebbetzin Vicki Riskin - co-founder of the Efrat Clothing Gemach accept the honor in the name of all those who volunteer in chesed organizations
** Natan Heronian - a builder of homes and synagogues, and a soldiers who battled to free Jerusalem
** Ayelet Avrahami - editor of the Dash Cham newsletter that is sent out on a regular basis to our soldiers, bnot sherut and yeshiva students, who organizes the Purim packages for soldiers each year and volunteers a great day for the post-High Schoolers
** HaRav Baruch Efrat - rabbi of the Zayit Raanan Shul, who is very involved in activities for children and parents together with children, as well as teaching Daf Yomi
** Bruriah Rabinowitz - head of the Efrat Bridal Gemach and Yad Sarah, who represented other devoted chesed volunteers
** Two Tamars - Tamar Hauser and Tamar Ganounian represented the young people who serve in Sherut Leumi and the Army
Continuing with the community theme, the two town choirs sang terrifically. The adult choir and the youth choir even took the stage for a joint song, and the crowd loved them.
Yachad (together) representatives of the three youth groups here - Bnei Akiva, Ezra and Dati Scouts - did some fun flag waving.
And the evening, of course, was topped off by terrific fireworks.
The town ceremonies were over. Folks went their own ways to private Yom HaAtzmaut parties and to another Gush Etzion-wide event - a kumsitz on Netzer Hill.
Happy Yom HaAtzmaut.
These two videos, give you a peek at the terrific evening we all had:

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