April 25, 2012
Guess who’s bringing the Israel Festival back?
L.A.’s Israeli leaders take Yom HaAtzmaut celebration to Rancho Park
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“The ILC is a very special phenomenon,” said Sagi Balasha, who took over as the organization’s CEO in September 2011. “Usually nonprofits grow as grass-roots organizations. Here it’s the leaders, the wealthy people in the community, who started the organization for the well-being of the entire community.”
Just five years after founding the ILC, this same group of businessmen has already reshaped the organizational landscape of their expatriate community by supporting schools, youth groups and other cultural activities that impact the lives of Israeli-Americans here. But by every accounting, the Celebrate Israel Festival is their largest single endeavor to date.
Evenhaim chaired the ILC’s last major throw-down, a concert at the Gibson Amphitheatre in November 2011 that featured Israeli pop star Moshe Peretz and Matisyahu. Tickets to that concert were heavily subsidized by the ILC because the event also served to launch I.L.Care, an ILC-administered network designed to encourage volunteerism among Israeli-Americans who might not otherwise engage with charitable causes, to guide them to pledge their time to doing good. Each of the 6,000 people who attended that concert had to commit four volunteer hours. (Some will be fulfilling their pledge on Sunday at the park.)
Among the ILC’s goals is to forge partnerships to increase the impact of its events and initiatives, and not just with its participants. “We got 100 organizations to promote an event, to bring people, and work to make sure it’s successful,” Evenhaim said, describing how the ILC promoted the concert last November. “That’s what’s happening with the festival, too.”
The results will likely be felt in e-mail inboxes across Los Angeles because according to the Celebrate Israel Festival’s organizers, 72 other groups have agreed to help the ILC promote the event. Many plan to send out information to everyone on their mailing lists about how to buy tickets in advance.
“Although the ILC is the leader in this festival,” Evenhaim said, “we see it as a community event. This is not just an ILC event.”
But even with the participation of multiple partners, the ILC has been in the driver’s seat from day one, and watching Adee Drory, the festival’s director, walk her production team through the park in early February, it appeared that the sponsors — who had already provided her with her own office, ILC-branded business cards and an assistant — had told her to spare no expense.
On a day when a crew shooting the TV show “Modern Family” had turned one corner of the park into a polling place with little more than a “VOTE HERE” sidewalk sign and a few small American flags, Drory was walking across acres of baseball fields and other green spaces, plotting out where the three stages, dozens of exhibitor booths, a few large tents and the fences, food stands and other necessities would go.
“We’ll need another dressing room,” Drory said, gesturing to a space just behind one of the baseball field’s chain-link backstops. “I have the Power Rangers coming.”