We will celebrate: A Yom Ha’atzmaut recap

On May 14, the Ottawa Jewish community came out to City Hall in force, to show our Jewish pride and support for the Jewish homeland. In spite of protestors banging drums and trying to disrupt the ceremonies, the community members gathered and celebrated with exuberance.

At noon, community members gathered for dancing, singing, and prayers for the hostages still being held by Hamas. In the shadow of the Israeli flag we could not be stopped from celebrating our Independence Day. The event concluded with the release of yellow balloons, one for each person still in captivity. 

Later in the day, more than 500 community members and allies came together with  Mayor Mark Sutcliffe and the Israeli Ambassador to Canada Iddo Moed to celebrate the Israeli flag and our right to gather and honour Israel. 

We were joined by MPP Lisa MacLeod, Rabbi Menecham Blum, and Cantor Jason Green. Together our dignitaries proudly spoke of their unwaveringly support for the Jewish community, they denounced hate, including antisemitism, and lead us in song, Hatikvah, and O Canada. All while the flag flew high over City Hall.

That evening, Hillel students held a BBQ at the Hillel House and over 50 students and young professionals joined the celebration. With burgers and Israeli Arak in hand, they stood proud in the face of encampments and rabid antisemitism on campus. They would not be stopped!

Simultaneously, there was a family party at the Soloway JCC. The SJCC held a beautiful Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration during these turbulent times. It was more subdued this year, as we are all reflecting on our trauma and concern and a choice was made to scale back on the dancing and music.

But we still felt the need to celebrate the same way that Jews and Israelis have done for the past 75 years of independence. We are determined that better days lie ahead. The event offered children's entertainment, circus workshops, Israeli menu at the Village Cafe, a film screening, and a special exhibition of the Gaza Envelope photography. Families and seniors poured in, hugged, caught up with their friends and, had their pictures taken, faces painted, and more.