Ezekiel’s Wheels, parades celebrate Israel’s independence

The Jewish Federation of Central Alabama will celebrate Israel’s 65th birthday with cultural activities and a visit from Boston Klezmer band Ezekiel’s Wheels.

The Wheels’ unique style was forged in the subway stations and farmers’ markets of Boston, where the informal setting and ever-changing audience created an ideal environment for musical experimentation.

On the advice of an admirer from the Porter Square T station, they entered the 2012 Boston Jewish Music Festival’s “Klezmer Idol” competition, winning first place and a recording session. Seven months later, with a brand new EP under their belt, they won both the jury-awarded City Winery Prize for best klezmer ensemble and the Audience Pick Award at the third biennial International Jewish Music Festival in Amsterdam. In addition to Montgomery, their first-ever Southern tour will take them to Atlanta and Chattanooga.

The Montgomery event will be at Wynlakes Country Club’s Ballroom and Terrace on April 14 from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. The community’s Israel emissary, Ori Tal, will discuss Israel, its important relationship with America, his time in Montgomery, and his hopes for the future of Montgomery’s Jewish community.

“There is a special bond between the nation of Israel — Jews and non-Jews throughout the world — who believe in the importance of Israel’s existence,” Tal said. “Israel is America’s strongest ally and America is the strongest ally of Israel; essential in helping Israel deal with the dangerous threats from their Middle Eastern neighbors.”

The event will feature Israeli themed cultural activities for all ages, including Israeli food and dancing lessons. Activities for kids will include a moon-bounce, face painting, crafts, and Israeli flags. There will be door prizes and a raffle.

The event is open to the public, but reservations are requested by April 11, as space is limited. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for children. Reservations can be made by contacting Susan McGuire at (334) 277-5820 or by emailing her at mail.jfca@gmail.com.

In New Orleans, the community will hold a Yom HaZikaron service to remember soldiers who gave their lives in defense of Israel, on April 15 at 5:30 p.m. at the Uptown Jewish Community Center. Afterward, it’s a celebration of Israel’s 65th birthday with a wide range of regional Israeli foods, and a performance of “The Spirit of Israel” by the Tel Aviv Scouts.

The memorial service will be led by members of the New Orleans Rabbinic Council.

The Tel Aviv Scouts are high school students who are also involved in scouting. They tour the world giving audiences a taste of Israel through a high-energy musical performance.

The Yom Ha’Atzmaut celebration will include activity booths for children. The event is free and open to the community, co-sponsored by 14 local congregations and organizatons.

In Birmingham, the Levite Jewish Community Center will host an Israel Independence Day celebration on April 21, starting with making decorations for the Israel parade at the Crestline post office on Montclair Road at 10 a.m. The parade will start at 10:30 a.m. and make its way to the LJCC soccer field, where there will be a carnival and food. A “surprise musical performance” will begin at 12:30 p.m.

Birmingham’s Knesseth Israel will also hold events for Israel Independence Day, starting with 5:15 p.m. minyan on April 15. That will be followed by a talk about Israel Memorial Day and a moment of silence, followed by a festive Ma’ariv service at 6 p.m. An Israeli-style dinner and movie will he held at 6:30 p.m.

On April 16 at 7:30 p.m. at the Tobacco Leaf, Knesseth Israel will hold an Israel-themed session, “Is the Prime Minister the King? Halachic Status of Modern Israel.”