Alyth partnered with the New Israel Fund to celebrate Israel’s 68th birthday with a Mizrachi themed evening of tastes, sounds and exploration of heritage.
In the afternoon younger members enjoyed making houmus from scratch and creating batik Israeli flags. The evening started with prayers and a Yom Ha Zikaron ceremony to commemorate those who have died through war and acts of terrorism in Israel. There were very moving testimonies given including one by Drori Yehoshua. Drori, born in Jerusalem, founded the KIAH Memizrach Shemesh Program to reconnect Mizrahi Jews, especially Mizrachi youth, to what he sees as the moderate and tolerant ideals of the communities in the Middle East in which the Mizrachim have their roots. Drori spoke very movingly about his father who was a soldier and died in the Yom Kippur war when he was just four years old.
Separate sessions included the opportunity (from Rabbis Mark Goldsmith and Josh Levy) to learn more about Mizrachi (literally eastern) Jews whose family origins are from the Middle East and North Africa and who are now the majority of Israel’s Jewish population. Drori and Tammy Katsabian (from “Shahrit” which brings together Israeli citizens from different social groups) also hosted sessions allowing the community to engage with Jewish textual and cultural riches that Mizrachi heritage has to offer. Another popular session was the cookery demonstration of some of the Mizrachi food which has enriched Israel’s gastronomy run by London-based Tunisian Fabienne Viner Luzzato.