Nearly 3,000 kids catch the energy of
Israel's 60th celebration.
The JCC gym
was filled with
A burst of
Keri Guten Cohen
Story Development Editor
and head for
Kach, 10, of
May 8 g 2008
ivid colors and high energy — all channeled toward Israel's 60th birthday — were
the hallmarks of a first-time event that brought together more than 3,000 students
in grades pre-K-6 from 15 congregational and community-based schools May 4 at
the Jewish Community Center in West Bloomfield.
Arriving simultaneously in 41 buses, they streamed into the JCC making a rainbow of
color in bright T-shirts (color coded for each school) that read "Israel is 60. I'm not ... Let's
Party!" on the front, and "Meet me at the Fair Aug. 21" on the back. (A com-munitywide
celebration is planned for that day at the Michigan State Fair.) The kids divided into two age
groups and met in the JCC's Fisher gym and Handleman Hall.
The morning began with concerts and story telling and ended with blue-and-white con-
fetti and the singing of "Hatikvah," led by local cantors, with a lot of fun, dancing and learn-
ing in between. Performers included storyteller Corinne Stavish, who told the younger crowd
stories of child heroes in Israel, followed by entertainer Rabbi Neal Katz. The Josh Nelson
Project band kept the older kids hopping.
As the students left the JCC, each was given a bottle of water and a cookie for the ride back
to school. A whopping total of 100 pounds of Bake Station cookies were given out. Many of
the students returned later to participate in the Walk for Israel.
"I am not overstating it when I say that the morning event rivaled a Miracle Mission in
terms of energy and atmosphere said Scott Kaufinan, Federation's IsraelSixty director. "It
may have been the best Jewish event I have ever attended.
"When 41 buses, each decorated by the kids at the congregations and schools, were
unloaded one after another; and kids numbering in the thousands poured out wearing their
brightly colored IsraelSixty shirts and marched into the JCC, it look like the opening proces-
sional of the Olympics in miniature ... it was a truly unforgettable visual.
"The collegiality and sense of community between all 15 congregational schools was pal-
pable and every kid left there excited about the Israel and looking forward to the State Fair,"
Event chairs were Rabbi Aaron Starr of Congregation Shir Tikvah, director of the Sam and
Jean Frankel Family School, and Julie Eisman, assistant education director at Temple Israel.
Congregational rabbis also participated.
"For me, it was a defining moment, the kind of experience you never forget personally or
professionally:' said Lisa Soble Siegmann of Federation's Alliance for Jewish Education, who
coordinated the event. "Seeing all those kids and all that positive energy was inspiring."
The even was sponsored by the Blumenstein family. E