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By Rhonda Spivak

Over 500 people from diverse backgrounds attended an elaborate and lively multi-cultural concert celebrating Tel Aviv’s 100th Anniversary and sixty years of friendship between Israel and Canada, on  October 21 at the Pantages Theatre.

The 2nd annual concert was organized by the Manitoba-Israel Shared Values Roundtable  [MISVR] led by  the Provincial Minister of Water Stewardship Christine Melnick.  Melnick founded the MISVR last year in order to recognize the values Manitobans and Israelis both share, such as democracy and free speech.

 The concert opened with a spectacular performance by the Wushu Manitoba Training Centre, which performed a Chinese dance that is reserved for special occasions. Audience members were clearly delighted by the costumed dancers who joined together to form a large four foot dragon who walked through the audience.

This group was followed by was a unique aboriginal group, Walking Wolf Dancers, that performed a dance with hoola hoops, associated with promote healing and wholeness.  There were a   large number of aboriginal supporters of the State of Israel who  arrived from places such as The Pas in Northern Manitoba for the concert.

Following   entertainment by the well-known Rozmai Ukranian Dance Company,

Rachel Manelson, director of the Tel-Aviv Foundation for  Europe, the UK and Canada, told the crowd, “ The horahs that Ashkenazi Jews dance were  derived from Ukranian and Russian  circle dances similar to the ones you just saw.”

Manelson arrived with the three term Mayor  of Tel-Aviv Ron Huldai, a former combat pilot and kibbutznik whose parents immigrated to Israel in the 1920’s.

After saying  he was  “proud to  be the Mayor of a dynamic city, that is tolerant and open,” Huldai joined  Israeli  singer Hila Eytan on stage as audience members were  invited  to come up to dance.   Enthusiastic adults and teens from a variety of diverse backgrounds filled the stage and danced a rousing round of horahs.

“In Tel-Aviv, we know how to dance,” said Mayor Huldai.

He noted that his  parents would never have dreamed  that Tel-Aviv, which began as a city of sand dunes built outside the old city walls of Jaffa , would have turned into the thriving city of arts and culture that it is today.

Following intermission, the audience was treated to a performance by Rockalypso, and then was introduced to the powerful vocals of teenage talent Cella Lao from Balmoral High School  who performed two songs in Italian.

The outstanding troupe of drummers and dancers in Viva Capoeira performed a high energy Brazilian dance, which was originally created by slaves who camouflaged their illegal practice of martial arts by turning it into a dance.

Earl Barish, Chairman of the Executive Board of B’nai Brith Canada  and Alan Yusim, of B’nai Brith were  presented with a plaque in honour of the 100th Anniversary of the organization this year.

The last performance was by our own Sara Sommer Chai Folk Ensemble, North America's oldest and largest Israeli folk dance ensemble, which has performed not only in Canada, but in Los Angeles, Palm Springs, and Mexico, in addition to Israel.

Barish, who introduced the group, said “One of our goals is to get this troupe back to perform in Israel and I have talked to the Mayor of Tel-Aviv about having them coming to his wonderful city.”

After the upbeat performance, Manelson said “It was amazing to see Chai perform. I would never have imagined that there would be such a Jewish group here. They were great.”

Sharon Blady, MLA for Kirkfield Park, Jonathon Kroft, President of the Jewish Federation her, Mel Lazareck, President of the JNF-Prairie Region,  Marra Messinger, of the  Canadian Committee for the Tel-Aviv Foundation, and  Pamela Rebello, executive Director of the  India School of Dance, all participated in the event by introducing various performers.

Princess Adenrele Adeniran-Ogunsanya from Lagos state, Nigeria, who attended the event while she  happened to be in the city said, “ It was a great evening.  I have never been to Israel, but maybe I will go. I am talking to Christine Melnick about this.”

Former Winnipeger Nathan Jacobson, who now lives in Tel-Aviv, flew in to the city especially for the event.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.