September 28, 2008
Israeli flag flies at consulate for first time
Maria del Jesus had been waiting under the warm sun for three hours.|
She pressed up against a police barricade for a good look Sunday as the Israeli flag was hoisted ceremoniously on Wilshire Boulevard in front of the Israeli consulate.
It was the first time the blue-and-white flag has flown there since the consulate's establishment in 1948.
A devout Christian evangelical, del Jesus wouldn't have missed the occasion for anything. "This is for the Holy Land," she said emotionally.
Next to her stood 79-year old Miriam Blick, who wanted a close-up of her grandson singing with his Stephen S. Wise school classmates.
The two women joined upwards of 3000 Southern Californians, from San Diego to Santa Barbara, for what was billed as an hour-long "Blue and White on Wilshire" gala.
The outdoor event, under extensive security, was an old-fashioned lift-your-voices, wave-the-flag celebration, with a little bit of everything. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa rang the rafters, pledging his city's unbreakable bond with Israel and ending with a rousing "Am Yisrael Chai."
Choirs from the Faithful Central Bible Church and three Jewish day schools sang, along with performances by the Jewish Symphony Orchestra and Latino bands.
Sixty rabbis and lay people blew shofars, American vocalist Macy Gray sang the "Star Spangled Banner," Israeli pop-singer/actress Noa Tishby sang "Hatikvah" and the legendary Hedva Amrani, once known as the Voice of Israel, belted out "Adon Olam" and "Hava Nagila" with Cantor Nathan Lam of Stephen S. Wise Temple.
The good cheer marked a new public face for the Consulate, where the Israeli flag now flies alongside the Stars and Stripes and the California Bear flags, a vision brought about by Israeli Consul General Yaakov Dayan, who, on assuming his post in Los Angeles a year ago, wondered why his country's emblem did not adorn Israel's consulate offices here and in five other American cities.
It took about 12 months to push the project through, but on Sunday the three flags were ceremoniously hoisted on brand new flagpoles. Comedian Elon Gold served as master of ceremonies, and Sammy Schatz, a senior at Milken Community High School, spoke emotionally on "What the Israel Flag Means to Me."
Dayan, whose staff had worked around the clock to organize the event, looked at the crowd, many of them waiving their own small and large Israeli flags, and murmured in amazement, "What a sight, what a sight."
Oh course, some folks were not happy
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