Monday, May 24, 2010

Israel Day Concert 'Rocks' New York

Derek Cling and Eli Stutz
A7 News

New York's Central Park came alive Sunday evening with the 17th Annual Israel Day Concert, attended by 20,000 people. The concert, dedicated to the memory of Dr. Manfred R. Lehmann, had a nationalist message of a united Jerusalem and a strong Israel. Dr. Yosef Frager, concert organizer, told Israel National News that the concert was the biggest and best ever. "One major miracle was that the weather, which was predicted as cold with showers, turned out to be a beautiful day. Clearly providential," said Frager.

"Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele was the keynote speaker, followed by Likud MK Danny Danon, who made the trip in from Israel just for the concert," reported Frager. "Mr. Steele highlighted 'solidarity with Israel' as his main theme. He said, 'if you mess with Israel you are messing with 300 million Americans.'"

Frager said that Steele criticized U.S. President Obama on his mistreatment of Prime Minister Netanyahu on his recent trip to the U.S., and for not being nearly tough enough on Iran. On Jerusalem, Steele insisted that it should remain united and said that the PA is not really serious about peace. "Steele told me that he was looking forward to his trip to Israel," Frager said, "and MK Danon invited Steele to speak in the Knesset."

Other speakers included Davi Ha'Ivri, Rabbi Pesach Lerner, future Congressman and former New York Jets linebacker Michael Faulkner, future Congressman from North Miami Beach Courey Poitier (cousin of Sidney Poitier), Rabbi David Algaze, Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum, and Assemblyman David Weprin. The concert emcee was Nachum Segal, assisted by concert chairman Dr. Paul Brody.

Performers at the concert included Eitan Katz, Elad Snir, Israeli pianist extraordinaire Shlomi Aharoni, Gershon Veroba, Pey Dalid, Izzy Kieffer, YU’s new a cappella group, the Maccabeats, and Michael Ian Elias, performing songs composed by Cecelia Margules and Rami Yadid. Jerry Markovitz performed the anthems. Dr. Tzvi Pearlstein, an orthopedic surgeon from Florida, flew in to spur on the crowd with his popular pocket trumpet.

The founders of the concert are Carl and Sylvia Freyer, and the co-organizers are Meyer and Esther Chetrit and Jacqui and Tamar Ekstein.

Dr. Paul Brody, one of the organizers of the event, told Israel National Radio's Yishai Fleisher beforehand that it "promotes a united Jerusalem and the commitment to not giving up any land anywhere in Eretz Yisrael, and supports standing up to the mullahs of Iran." Brody explains that the Israel Day concert is meant to "send a message out to the people that we are showing great support" for the Nation and Land of Israel. "The main theme, however, is that Yerushalayim will be united forever because, after all, Eretz Israel and Yerushalayim is the Promised Land of the Jewish people, which will remain undivided for eternity. As it says in the Torah in Bereishit/Genesis – so from the beginning, the Land of Israel is ours, so I don’t even know why there's any kind of talk of dividing anything or giving away any part of Eretz Israel."

The concert was dedicated to the quick release of Jonathan Pollard, who has been incarcerated for over 25 years in a U.S. prison, and also to the quick release of Gilad Shalit from Hamas hands.

The concert's advertisement posters, which were put up all over New York City and beyond, show a picture of the Western Wall and proclaim "Jerusalem United Forever" and "No Further Concessions in Yehuda and Shomron." Brody says the main value in the concert being is that it "shows in massive numbers to the world and the Obama administration that we are here not to take anything sitting down and we're not going to be pushed around. The parade has its own value in Jewish pride and numbers to show what's going on."

The fact that Michael Steele spoke "is a resounding message," says Brody, "because he's a man of national stature, and I think Obama is going to be listening very well." Of MK Danny Danon, Brody says, "he's a wonderful speaker – he's not one of these politicians that signals right and turns left." In addition, David Ha'Ivri talked about standing firm in "settling the Land and not giving up Yehuda and Shomron."

Dr. Manfred R. Lehmann, to whose memory this year's concert was dedicated, "was a well known Jewish activist and philanthropist, and sort of a Renaissance man," explains Brody, who believes that "the attendance and support of everyone who comes will really help to ensure the survival of the State of Israel and the Jewish people." The concert was also held in memory of Rose and Rubin Madison of Häagen-Dazs fame.

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