The Edmond Sun

April 22, 2013

AGAINST THE GRAIN: Oklahomans commemorate 65th anniversary of Israel

William F. O'Brien
Special to The Sun

OKLA. CITY — The Jewish Federation of Greater Oklahoma City recently presented an event to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel. The event began with a gathering at the Immanuel Synagogue in the Midcity area where two Oklahoma City rabbis, Abby Jacobson and Viered Harris, spoke about the history of the state of Israel since its founding and the struggles it has gone through to maintain its existence.

The Israeli national anthem was sung by a member of the Israeli Air Force who is currently stationed at Tinker Air Force Base. The main hallway of the synagogue is lined with photographs of the men and some women who have served as its presidents. The earliest pictures date from the early 1900s and are a reminder of the deep roots that the Jewish community has in the Oklahoma City area. After a shofar was blown outside of the synagogue the attendees marched in a parade of several blocks to the Westminster School in which they carried small Israeli flags and balloons with Israel’s name on them. Many of those who participated in the parade wore blue T-shirts that indicated that their souls and hearts were both in Israel and Oklahoma.

At Westminster School they were met with a small, papier mache replica of the Wailing Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem. For centuries pilgrims have come to the Wailing Wall to pray and leave written prayers and requests in the openings that are found on that wall. President Barak Obama left such a request when he was in Jerusalem during his recent trip to Israel.

The replica of the wall had places for inserting such prayers, and paper and pen was provided for those who wish to make them. There also were posters that contained images of the Israeli city of Tel Aviv and an Israeli Kibbutz. Israeli food was served to the guests that included hummus and pita bread. The attendees ate on tables that were covered by Israeli newspapers written in Hebrew.  

The children present were given material to make paper flowers to celebrate the way Israel has succeeded in making the desert bloom. The bottled water that was served indicated that it came from Jacob’s well in Israel. A musical performance by a group of Arab and Israeli musicians that  was sponsored by the Oklahoma- Israel Exchange also was part of the celebration and took place in the Westminster School theater. Susan Roberts, who is the president of that exchange, explained that it works to foster economic and cultural ties between Israel and Oklahoma. She also spoke of how the musicians who were performing are sponsored by the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra, and that they work to foster greater understanding among Arabs and Israelis. One of the musicians spoke of how they perform music that is popular with both Arabs and Jews.  

Marcie Price, who is the head of the Oklahoma City Jewish Federation, thanked the attendees for their support and said that the ties between Israel and the state of Oklahoma will remain strong.

WILLIAM F. O’BRIEN is an Oklahoma City attorney.