Israeli-Americans celebrate heritage at festival

The Celebrate Israel Festival at The Venetian gave hundreds of the valley’s Jewish and Israeli residents a chance to celebrate their heritage and connect with local resources Sunday.

The event was part of a national series of festivals taking place this month, and the Israeli-American Council said it will hold similar events in Los Angeles, Boston, Miami and New York that are expected to draw more than 50,000 people nationwide in support of Israel and its 67th Independence Day, officially held April 23 in Israel.

Attendees were greeted by a member of the Tzofim Israel Scouts, a youth organization for Israeli-Americans. The boys and girls passed out small Israeli flags and ran around the convention space with their friends.

Modeled after an open-air bazaar in Jerusalem, the resource fair featured booths with information about local Jewish schools, summer camps and synagogues. There were tables to shop for jewelry, clothing and home decorations.

There were areas for children to play video games and do arts and crafts. There was a petting zoo and a re-creation of a Tel Aviv beach scene — with sand and with a bar for the adults. The Judah’s Kosher Grill food truck was parked inside to serve shredded beef hoagies and knockwurst. And Israeli pop star Shlomi Shabat performed in The Venetian Theater.

“As Israeli-Americans we know the richness of Israeli culture, food and music, and we wanted to share what we love about Israel with the Las Vegas community,” Amir Eden, regional director of IAC’s Las Vegas office, said.

While most of the free event focused on family fun, a considerable chunk of the showroom was devoted to the history of Jerusalem and the people of Israel. Dozens of attendees took turns watching a 3-D movie about the 3,000-year Jewish history of Jerusalem in one tent, and there was a 32-foot-long replica of the Western Wall — the most sacred place in Judaism. Anyone could place a note in the wall, as is the custom, with the notes to be delivered to the actual Western Wall.

Avi Baldasare, a 28-year-old tour guide in Jerusalem, made the trip to Las Vegas to give lectures about the historical and religious significance of the Western Wall. He said the wall became a popular destination for Jewish travelers in the 1950s, and thousands of people of all faiths and ethnicities are drawn to the site every year.

Baldasare explained how the first great temple was built north of the city by King Solomon but was destroyed by Babylonians. Then it was rebuilt but destroyed by Romans before the city came under the control of Muslims. The Western Wall is the only piece of the ancient temple that survives, was the closest to the holiest part of the temple and has since become a symbol to Jewish people around the world of their historic homeland and exile, he said.

“Jerusalem is a place that connects everybody,” he said. “It inspires people from all over the world. People come to Jerusalem and feel something special. A lot of times it’s hard to put into words.”

Contact Wesley Juhl at and 702-383-0391. Find him on Twitter: @WesJuhl.

Camp Broadway teaches kids how to sing and dance
The Smith Center's seventh annual Camp Broadway musical theater program gives 150 kids ages 6-17 an opportunity to learn musical theater skills from industry professionals over a five-day period. Marcus Villagran/ Las Vegas Review-Journal @brokejournalist
Las Vegas police officer on being PETA's Sexiest Vegan Next Door
Las Vegas police officer David Anthony talks vegan lifestyle and how he feels about being voted PETA's sexiest Vegan next door from his home on Monday, July 9, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
'NO H8' Campaign comes to Las Vegas
Hundreds of locals participate in the NO H8 campaign founded by Adam Bouska and Jeff Parshley as a response to Proposition 8, a California ban on same-sex marriage. The campaign has since evolved to represent equal treatment for all. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Star Wars and Golden Knights mashup at downtown art shop
Star Wars and Vegas Golden Knights fans attend the Boba Fett Golden Knight Paint Class at The Bubblegum Gallery in Las Vegas, Friday, June 29, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Bark-Andre Furry meets Capitals superfan Ovie the Bulldog
Two of NHL's furriest fans met at the Forum Shops in Caesars Palace on Tuesday, June 18, 2018, in Las Vegas. Vegas Golden Knights superfan Bark-Andre Furry and Washington Capitals superfan Ovie the Bulldog shared a plate of meatballs and spaghetti with help from Logan, "The Girl with the Hat." (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
News Headlines
Local Spotlight
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like