Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

60th anniversary of Israel's founding is celebrated in Tampa

Samantha Caldwell, 9, joins in singing Happy Birthday on Sunday during the Tampa Jewish Community Center & Federation’s celebration of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Israel. The event drew 3,000 people to Al Lopez Park.


Samantha Caldwell, 9, joins in singing Happy Birthday on Sunday during the Tampa Jewish Community Center & Federation’s celebration of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Israel. The event drew 3,000 people to Al Lopez Park.


Haim Goldenberg took a break from the music and food and socializing at the Israel Independence Day Community Festival for a moment of prayer.

Sunday was a special day for the Odessa man who grew up in Jerusalem.

It's not just that this week marks Israel's 60th birthday as an independent nation. Also Sunday, his 19-year-old daughter, Ilana, left for her birthright trip to Israel. Birthright is a program that sends young Jewish adults to Israel.

"I want her to have a good trip," Goldenberg said, as he held his arm out for Rabbi Uriel Rivkin to administer the Tefillin, two boxes containing scrolls from the Torah, fastened onto one's arm and head with leather straps.

The purpose of the tradition is to connect one's heart and mind in prayer, Rivkin said. He called it a direct connection with God, and with history. The prayer first spoken in ancient Egypt has been repeated for thousands of years, from Jerusalem to Auschwitz to Manhattan.

Goldenberg would repeat it once more at Al Lopez Park. He began: "Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One."

More than 3,000 people gathered at the festival organized by the Tampa Jewish Community Center. Israeli dancers performed on stage. Vendors sold Israeli food. And kids played field games like the horseshoe-style Tel-Aviv Toss, and Fish in the Red Sea with a rod and a kiddie pool.

Event chair Lee Tobin said the celebration is important, because it brings all the Jewish synagogues, schools and organizations from the city together to celebrate the one place in the world that holds all Jews together.

"It's important that Israel stay alive and do what it does best in the Middle East," said co-chair Valerie Tobin, "provide a homeland and a haven."

Lori and Daniel Frenden have never been to Israel, but Sunday, they perused 15 mural displays of its cities with their 3-year-old son, Joshua.

The Frendens, New Port Richey residents, work hard to make sure Joshua understands his heritage. Lori, who grew up Jewish, had an adult Bat Mitzvah to delve deeper into her religion. And Daniel, who was raised Catholic, converted.

"This is Jerusalem," Daniel said as he showed the mural to Joshua, who wondered when he'd get to return to the big, colorful bounce house nearby. The 3-year-old waved an Israeli flag that matched the one painted on his cheek.

His dad asked him to repeat the prayer they say every night at bed time, so he did.

"God bless the Jews," Joshua said. "God bless Israel. God bless America. Amen."

Alexandra Zayas can be reached at or (813) 226-3354.

60th anniversary of Israel's founding is celebrated in Tampa 05/04/08 [Last modified: Monday, May 5, 2008 6:57am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Gators rally past Kentucky, streak hits 31


    LEXINGTON, Ky. — For the second week in a row, Florida found itself storming the field in a game that came down to the last second. A 57-yard field-goal attempt by Kentucky kicker Austin MacGinnis came just a few feet short of making history and snapping a 30-year losing streak, as the No. 20 Gators escaped a …

    Florida wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Lexington, Ky.
  2. Pen makes it way too interesting as Rays hang on for 9-6 win


    A couple of home runs provided the news pegs of the night for the Rays, but it was more topical to talk about what nearly happened as they hung on for a 9-6 win over the Orioles.

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season, as well as his …

  3. An attempt to project what Rays will look like in 2018

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — We know what the Rays look like this year: a team that had enough talent but too many flaws, in construction and performance, and in the next few days will be officially eliminated from a wild-card race it had a chance to win but let slip away.

    Adeiny Hechavarria, high-fiving Lucas Duda, seems likely to be brought back.
  4. Trump fallout: Bucs' DeSean Jackson to make 'statement' Sunday


    Bucs receiver DeSean Jackson said Saturday that he will make a "statement" before today's game against the Vikings in response to President Donald Trump's comment that owners should "fire" players who kneel in protest during the national anthem.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) makes a catch during the first half of an NFL game between the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017.
  5. Kriseman invites Steph Curry to St. Pete on Twitter


    Mayor Rick Kriseman is no stranger to tweaking President Donald Trump on social media.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman took to Twitter Saturday evening to wade into President Donald Trump's latest social media scuffle