June 12, 2024
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Middlesex County Celebrates Yom Ha’atzmaut

Three Middlesex County communities raised the flag of the state of Israel on Yom Ha’atzmaut in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the founding of the modern Jewish state.

East Brunswick’s mayor, Brad Cohen, opened the East Brunswick flag raising on the afternoon of Tuesday, April 25, by noting that Israel’s Independence Day had already started due to the time difference. The mayor welcomed the approximately 150 people in attendance, remarking that it was the first time a flag other than the United States flag had flown from the pole outside the East Brunswick Municipal Building.

Various local political figures and local rabbis spoke about the importance of Israel, with Mayor Cohen adding that “Israel is important to the community, the state of New Jersey and the entire world. While American news is bombarded with news about Israel that features conflict, bloodshed and war, the realities are actually different.” He stated that the moral imperative of tikkun olam, leaving the world a better place, has led to innovation in all areas that benefit the global economy. He added that the economic development created with East Brunswick’s Israeli sister city, Yavneh, will benefit both countries and their residents.

More than 50 students, teachers and administrators from Yeshivat Netivot Montessori came to show support for Israel. Also present and speaking at the event were Rabbi Yehoshua Hess of the Young Israel of East Brunswick, Rabbi David Gross of Torah Links of Middlesex County, Rabbi Eric Eisenkramer of Temple B’nei Shalom, Matt Hale as a Yeshivat Netivot Montessori board member, State Assemblyman Sterley Stanley, East Brunswick Council Vice President Dana Zimbicki and East Brunswick Economic Development Officer Robert Zuckerman.

The Israeli flag was raised as the audience was led in the singing of Hatikva, the Israeli national anthem, led by Larry Brandspiegel, East Brunswick Jewish Center cantor.

Edison’s Mayor Sam Joshi hosted his town’s celebration on Wednesday afternoon, April 26, in front of the Edison Municipal Building. He opened the ceremony by noting “Edison is one of the most diverse communities, where all should be made to feel welcome and celebrate and learn from each other.” He continued that Israel is a testament to freedom and the right to live in a land securely and safely.

Margot Harris, Edison Council vice president, Councilperson Joyce Ship-Freeman and State Assemblyman Robert Karabinchak spoke and shared their support for Israel.

Adam Glinn, CEO of the JCC of Middlesex County in Edison, said that the miracle is the tiny country itself and its impact on the world in art, technology, science and improving the human condition throughout the globe—all while fighting for its own survival.

Almost 200 people attended the event, including the eighth-grade class, teachers and administration of the Rabbi Pesach Raymon Yeshiva (RPRY) in Edison. The flag raising was done as the audience sang Hatikva, led by the students.

After the event, Mayor Joshi said that he was proud to raise the Israeli flag for the first time in Edison, where it is a testament to the community to provide freedom, safety and security to residents no matter where they are from or their religious beliefs.

Later that evening, Highland Park held their flag raising in front of the community center on South 6th Avenue. Mayor Elsie Foster opened her remarks acknowledging how the attendance far exceeded her expectations. While it may be the first raising of Israel’s flag, she hopes to do it many times in the future as the shared values of the United States and Israel are celebrations of both countries.

Council President Matt Hersh stated that while flag raising is simple, the symbolism is a strong statement that the flag raising adjacent to Boro Hall shows the support the community has for the independence of the state of Israel.

State Senator Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. said the celebration of Israel is a celebration of the United States. “E pluribus unum—we are all one together.”

Councilperson Matt Hale spoke about the significance of the Israeli flag and what he noticed during a recent trip to Israel. Hale said that while Israel is home to many political voices—on the right, center and left—the flag unites them all, and continued that the message is important as we need to focus on something symbolic to celebrate and unify people when division is common.

Additional remarks attesting to the miracles of the state of Israel were shared by Rivky Ross, head of school of Yeshivat Netivot Montessori; Rabbi Michael Ribalt, RPRY head of school; Rabbi Eliot Malomet of the HPCT—CAE; Shayna Shapiro, RPRY eighth-grade student; and ROC founder/president/CEO Josh Pruzansky.

Pruzansky, who helped publicize the many events with email and social media, publicly expressed gratitude to the communities and their elected officials for their support of Israel and the local Jewish communities. He noted that the flag raisings, in three different communities, attended by at least 500 people in two days, are a genuine accomplishment for the Middlesex County Jewish community.

By Deborah Melman

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