Going back at least to when I was a high school student in the early 70's, the Jewish community in Chicago has joined together each year to celebrate Israel. On a Sunday near Yom Ha'atzmaut (Israel Independence Day - April 16th this year) we've participated in an ever-changing range of activities.
At first, it was just the Walk With Israel. We'd get "per mile" pledges from friends and family and participate in relatively long walks - maybe it was 18 miles. (Eighteen is a lucky number for Jews - the numerical value of the Hebrew word for "life"). All money raised at the event was used by the Jewish United Fund in Chicago to support projects in the State of Israel.
Eventually, there were shorter, more family-friendly neighborhood walks in several communities in the Chicago area. The walk in the Northwest Suburbs for many years passed in front of our house. For a few years the entire Chicago Jewish community gathered at McCormick Place and walked along Lake Michigan.
There was always good (or sometimes just decent) food, and wonderful (always wonderful) entertainment provided by some of the most popular Jewish musicians of the day.
This year, to mark Israel's 65th birthday, we're taking over the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park on Sunday, April 28th. That also happens to be Lag B'Omer - a day of partying ... and haircuts ... particularly among more traditional Jews.
Click here for all the details and to register for Israel Solidarity Day at Ravinia. This year, entertainment will be provided by the King David Drummers, The Maccabeats, and Matisyahu.
You've never heard of these performers? Well, let me bring you up to speed:
King David Drummers
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