Memorable night in New York
Photo: Shahar Azran
Singer David D’or
Photo: Shahar Azran
The Consulate General of Israel in New York hosted a celebration in honor of Israel’s 61st anniversary at the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem. From the soulful sounds of “Amazing Grace” to a rock ‘n roll rendition of “Hava Nagila,” three local gospel choirs joined renowned Israeli singer David D’or and in a “Night of Harmony.”
Following last year’s successful event at the Apollo Theatre, which housed a full crowd, the Israeli Consulate decided to make this year’s celebration with the local African American community the focal point of its Independence Day festivities. The three African-American ensembles included Harlem’s own Bethel Gospel Choir, a teenage group from The Allen Cathedral of Jamaica, Queens, and Christian soul rocker Hezekiah Walker & LFC.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg led off the evening with a commemorative speech, in which he stated: “Sixty-one years. It’s really quite an accomplishment. We celebrate not only a remarkable birthday, but also a remarkable partnership between two peoples.”
'Event marks a milestone'David Saranga, Consul for Media and Public Affairs at the Israeli Consulate, told reporters, “This event holds great importance because of the common histories these two communities have shared. It is our goal to bring to the attention of the younger generation that Jews were fighting arm-in-arm with the African American communities to achieve civil rights and equality.” He added: “This event marks a milestone in Israel’s effort to reach out to both the African American and Latino communities, and is now part of that tradition that has lasted more than 18 years.”
Each February for nearly the past two decades, the Israeli Consulate has been awarding members of the African American community with a Martin Luther King Jr. Award, an effort co-sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Jewish National Fund. Recipients have included Russell Simmons, Bishop Roderick Caesar, Eric Cooper and Rev. A.R. Bernard Sr.
One of these honorees, Bishop Caesar, was on stage at the “Night of Harmony” and told the crowded theater that he is “determined to be one who brings unity and strength to each and every one of us as we endeavor to learn to work together.”