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Jewish Journal

Happy Independence Day

by Adam Wills

May 4, 2006 | 8:00 pm

Yom HaAtzmaut, Isreal's Independence Day, has already passed, but the party in Los Angeles really gets started this Sunday, May 7, at the Israel Independence Day Festival. The celebration for Israel's 58th birthday is at Woodley Park in Van Nuys, and the festival runs from 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

This year marks the second collaboration between festival organizers and The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, which has dropped its own Valley-based Los Angeles Jewish Festival.

"What we've done is combine efforts, rather than running two festivals," said Carol Koransky, executive director of The Jewish Federation/Valley Alliance. "We've brought more component parts into The Israel Festival," including The Jewish Community Library, which is sponsoring the festival's children's stage. She added that the participation of Federation-backed programs like HaMercaz, a multiagency effort that assists special-needs families, helped sell out booth space this year.

To emphasize the diversity of the Jewish community, organizers are adding acts like Dudu Fisher (see festival calendar on this page) to the same card as Israeli supergroup Mashina in hopes of drawing people from outside of the festival's traditional base.

"Our mindset is now that this is a festival for everyone. Not just Israelis, Persians and Russians. It's for everyone," said Yoram Gutman, the Israel Festival's executive director.

A new, potentially helpful feature is the MTA's Orange Line, which runs along Victory Boulevard. The festival is encouraging people to avoid jockeying for parking spaces by using nearby MTA lots (see map) and riding Orange Line buses, which will run every six minutes. The line features a stop directly outside the festival grounds at Woodley Park.

MTA parking lots are located off Sepulveda at 15430 W. Erwin St., across the street from Costco, and at the corner of Balboa and Victory boulevards at 6340 N. Balboa Blvd. Festival-goers who "park and ride," will receive either a free souvenir T-shirt or hat, while supplies last, when they present a valid MTA ticket as proof that they used public transportation to get to the festival.

Free parking will be available along Woodley Avenue and across from the festival.

And don't forget to stop by The Jewish Journal's booth to meet our staff and get free goodies.

The Israel Independence Day Festival. Woodley Park, 6350 Woodley Ave., Van Nuys. Sunday, May 7, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. $5 per person; children under 2 free. For more information, call (818) 757-0123 or visit www.israelfestival.com.

MAIN STAGE

11:30 a.m.: Enjoy a slice of "Wedding Crashers" with L.A.-based Klezmer Juice Band, the ensemble that played "Hava Nagila" as Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson attempted to dance the hora.

12 p.m.: Boys and girls from Tzirei Tel Aviv perform choreographed Israeli pop.

12:30 p.m.: Liz Shahar, who headlines Saturdays at Bazel Cafe, leads the audience in songs from the Israeli military.

1:15 p.m.: L.A. Sheriff's skydiving team The Golden Stars drop in to kick off the day's ceremonies. KRLA talk-show host Dennis Prager emcees the event, which honors Si Frumkin for his efforts to build bridges between Los Angeles' Israel and Russian communities. Scheduled speakers include L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa; LAPD Chief William Bratton; Wendy Gruel, L.A. City Council's president pro tempore; Assemblyman Lloyd Levine (D-Van Nuys); Rep. Howard Berman (D-Van Nuys); and L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky.

2:24 p.m.: David Dassa, son of Israeli dance choreographer Dani Dassa (see profile on page 30), kicks the celebration back into high gear with Israeli folk dancing.

2:30 p.m.: Local musician Sam Glaser performs his unique blend of pop, jazz and rock with his Sam Glaser Band.

3 p.m.: American-born Israeli singer Bat-Sheva Levy sings original songs that blend R & B, Latin grooves and Mideast rhythms.

3:30 p.m.: Orthodox Broadway sensation Dudu Fisher performs.

4:30 p.m.: Israeli "American Idol" contestant Hadas Shalev joins Limor Ben-Nun for a series of duets.

5 p.m.: Israeli supergroup Mashina makes its triumphant return to SoCal (for more on Mashina, see story on page 42).

TEL AVIV STAGE

11:30 a.m.: Reb Jason plays songs from his album "Shabbat Rocks."

12 p.m.: Tempo regulars Yosi Levy and Jimmy Gamliel belt out familiar favorites.

12:30 p.m.: Limor Ben-Nun.

1 p.m.: Tzirei Tel Aviv.

2:15 p.m.: Liz Shahar.

3 p.m.: Tzirei Tel Aviv.

3:30 p.m.: Sam Glaser Band.

4 p.m. Bat-Sheva Levy.

4:30: Klezmer Juice Band.

FASHION SHOW

12 p.m.: Local hip-hop act dJOoKRoO (pronounced Jew Crew) performs.

12:30 p.m.: Chutzpah, the "Jewish hip-hop supergroup," sports Jewish bling and songs like "Shiksa Goddess" and "Tsuris."

2 p.m.: Melrose shop Insanity features its eye-catching club fashions for women and men.

2:30 p.m.: Israeli cover band Ram 2 gets you warmed up for Mashina with some of the supergroups' hits.

3 p.m.: Santee Suits, located in the garment district downtown, shows off its line of Italian men's suits.

3:30 p.m.: Navigator, which features two downtown locations, specializes in high-end men's club and casual wear.

4:45 p.m.

Balkan Beat Box blends electronic music with folk music from the Balkans, North Africa and the Middle East (see story on page 44).

CHILDREN'S STAGE

(DJ Eyal emcees)

10:30 a.m.: Author Sylvia Rouss reads "Sammy Spider's First Trip to Israel."

11 a.m.: Author Sylvia Rouss reads "Tali's Jerusalem Scrapbook."

1 p.m.: Tal Tamir reads "Sammy Spider's First Trip to Israel" in Hebrew.

1:15 p.m.: Nathan the Juggler performs.

2:30 p.m.: Performance from the San Fernando Valley Youth Chorus, a Canoga Park-based choral program for children from grades three through 12.

3 p.m.: Kids get into the act as Fun and Discovery With Magic enlists the aid of the audience with a comedy magic show.

4 p.m.: The School of Martial Arts demonstrates its African-based fighting system of Kwa Asilia Avita Sanaa.

4:30 p.m.: Sylvia Rouss.

CHILDREN'S TENT

11 a.m.: Arts and crafts.

12:30 p.m.: Gymnastics demonstration and participation with Gymnastics by Juliana.

1:30 p.m.: Balloons.

2 p.m.: Face painting.

3 p.m.: Balloons.

3:30 p.m.: Face painting.

JEWISH COMMUNITY LIBRARY OF LOS ANGELES TENT

10:30 a.m.: Sylvia Rouss book signing, followed by more signings at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

11:30 a.m.: Origami spiders and more with artist Joel Stern.

12 p.m.: Special activity with Sylvia Rouss.

12:30 p.m.: Joel Stern returns for more spider origami.

2 p.m.: Special activity with Sylvia Rouss.

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