The Jewish Federation of Cleveland will ring in the state of Israel’s 73rd anniversary with a festival boasting in-person and virtual options April 15.

For those looking to celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut in person, the Federation will host a drive-in party at Corporate College East at 4400 Richmond Road in Warrensville Heights. Attendees will remain in their vehicles and enjoy a musical performance by the Lehava band from Israel, words from Havat Hashomer base commander Tom Elgart, live dancers, jugglers, magicians and stilt walkers. Families with young children can park at a family-friendly lot and experience a bubble show and other activities.

“We have such an inclusive Jewish community in Cleveland, so we wanted the Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration to reflect that,” said Michael Stovsky, who is event co-chair with Allison Wuliger of Kirtland. “Now that we can see the light a little bit on COVID, we felt it was appropriate to have something that was a little bit more in-person, but still was safe and allows people to feel comfortable and socially distance appropriately.”

Attendees can pre-order Israeli style food from Kantina in University Circle and have meals delivered to their cars.

The parking lot will open at 5 p.m. The Federation encourages those attending in person to decorate their cars and wear blue and white attire.

The virtual experience from 5:30 to 6:45 p.m. April 15 will feature a simulcast of the in-person event. Viewers will be able to revel in Israeli music, games and other entertainment from the comfort of their homes.

Several kosher restaurants will offer a Yom Ha’atzmaut special to enjoy during the event. Those include Arova in South Euclid, 216-465-1009; Chocolate Emporium in South Euclid, 216-554-7763; Fishstix in University Heights, 216-777-3474; Milky Way in South Euclid, 216-417-4202; and Kantina, 216-231-1079. Contact the restaurants for details and to order.

The first 200 registrants for either experience will win an “Israel in a Box” activity box containing family-friendly games and interactive entertainment related to Israel and Yom Ha’atzmaut.

The annual independence day celebration is one of the Federation’s biggest events of the year, and pre-COVID-19, the party was held in expansive spaces like Landerhaven in Mayfield Heights to accommodate crowds of between 850 and 1,000 people.

While this year’s Yom Ha’atzmaut festival will be different with people spread out behind car windows and computer screens, Stovsky said he expects similar attendance and an event just as fun.

“There are very few events in the Jewish community that appeal to the entire Jewish community – Yom Ha’atzmaut is one of those events,” said Stovsky, a Beachwood resident and member of The Temple-Tifereth Israel in Beachwood and Solon Chabad in Solon. “We’re able to celebrate the independence of the state of Israel, which is something that every aspect of the Jewish community in Cleveland can relate to. There’s an appeal for everybody to recognize the importance of the independence of the state of Israel.”

The Cleveland Jewish News is a media sponsor of the celebration.

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