What makes this Israel Independence Day Festival different from festivals past?
This year is not just a celebration of 62 years of Israeli independence, it also marks the 150th birthday of Theodore Herzl, the father of modern Zionism.
“Thanks to Herzl, there is a Jewish state,” said Yoram Gutman, the festival’s executive director. “He is the one that said, ‘If you will it, it is no dream.’ ”
An exhibit honoring Herzl’s life, his legacy and the creation of the State of Israel will be featured at the festival, which takes place Sunday beginning at 10 a.m. at Woodley Park in Van Nuys.
L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will be honored with the Yakir HaKehila Award during the event’s official ceremony, which begins at 1:30 p.m. on the Main Stage.
Although past festivals have included international Israeli pop stars and bands, organizers are showcasing local singers and DJs this year. Among the acts are headliners Pini Cohen, Zioni, Nemar and
Jimmy Gamliel, who will perform hafla (party) style from 5:45 p.m. until the festival ends at 7 p.m.
“We want to encourage and give local performers and artists a stage,” Gutman said.
Make that three stages: one for children, one for teens and a main stage for an audience of more than 15,000 people.
A new element this year is the inclusion of J-Serve Day, a national day of Jewish teen service. Teens will earn community service hours helping groups like Jewish World Watch and SOVA as well as raising environmental awareness from 1 to 4 p.m. For adults looking for good deeds to do, a bone marrow donor testing station will be available in The Jewish Federation’s tent and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center is sponsoring a blood drive.
The festival will also feature more than 250 booths — an increase of 100 over 2009 — kosher food, a sky-diving show, fashion shows, carnival rides, an upgraded petting zoo and five hours of Israeli folk dancing, for those who can keep up.
Ticket prices have increased $3 over last year to $8 (children 3 and under are free) to ensure a police and fire department presence at the festival. The city of Los Angeles has paid for the expense in past years, but could not this year due to the ongoing budget crisis.
The one thing that will not be different from past years, Gutman says, is the festival’s aim to bring L.A.’s Jewish community together in support of the Jewish state.
“We hope a lot of people will come, identify and say, ‘I stand with Israel,’ ” he said.
11 a.m.-noon — Heshy Rosewasser
Noon-12:30 p.m. — Liz Shachar
12:30-1 p.m. —Yael Meyer
1-1:30 p.m. — Shir Ba’ir
1:30-2:30 p.m. — Official ceremony
2:30-3 p.m. — Ladino Choir
3-3:45 p.m. — Rick Recht
3:50-4:10 p.m. — Fashion Show
4:10-4:30 p.m. — Karin Lapidot
4:30-5 p.m. — Hanadnedot
5-5:40 p.m. — Ram 2
5:45-7 p.m. — Hafla-style performance with Pini Cohen, Zioni, Nemar and Jimmy Gamliel
10 a.m.-noon —DJ Aviel
Noon-1 p.m. — Sharim Karaoke with Aviel Altit
1-1:30 p.m. — DJ Noam Bakin
2:30-3 p.m. — DJ Oron
3-3:15 p.m. — Chris Star
3:15-3:30 p.m. — Arsenal
3:30-3:45 p.m. — Yung Pachino
3:45-4 p.m. — DJ Aviel
4-4:15 p.m. — Wedding Fashion Show
4:15-4:30 p.m. — Kobi Ben Chamo
4:30-4:45 p.m. — T.O.B.
4:45-5 p.m. — Shay Silver
5-5:45 p.m. — DJ Aviel
5:45-6:30 p.m. — DJ Caroline Posada
6:30-7 p.m. - DJ Samtabul
11-11:30 a.m. — OC Guy
11:30 a.m.-noon — Shir Ba’ir
Noon-1 p.m. — Rick Recht
1-1:30 p.m. — Liz Shachar
2:30-3 p.m. — Improv workshop with Barbara Heller
3-3:30 p.m. — DK Dance Factory
3:30-4 p.m. — MATI Youth Choir
4-4:30 p.m. — Krav Maga
62nd Israel Independence Day Festival, Woodley Park, 6350 Woodley Ave., Van Nuys. Sunday 10 a.m.-7 p.m. $8 per person; children under 3 are free. For more information, call (818) 757-0123 or visit israelfestival.com.
Attendees are encouraged to park at one of the nearby MTA lots and ride the Orange Line bus, which stops at the park entrance at the corner of Victory Boulevard and Woodley Avenue. Additional parking will be available adjacent to the festival on Woodley Avenue. Buses will also shuttle back and forth between the festival and a satellite parking lot on the west side of Balboa Boulevard, just south of Victory Boulevard.