Dear Friends of Tiberias,
I invite you to read our new Tiberias-up-to-date newsletter with this special edition covering the activities and celebrations of Israel’s 60th Independence Day. The special events span through the whole year and your will be hearing more in the following editions to come. However, it is important to emphasize that in Tiberias we celebrate 60 years of return to Jewish rule of the city from the British Mandate ending in 1948 and Tiberias was the first city in Israel that was officially claimed in Jewish hands during the fighting of the Independence War.
Although we rejoice and celebrate on this special occasion we continue to work hard regardless, with the purpose of moving forward and becoming better at what we do and what we offer. I hope you continue to share your interest with us and I thank you for it.
I am pleased to bring this new edition of our newsletter spanning the events of April and May 2008. It is the month and the year of our Israel’s 60th anniversary and independence – the only democratic and free state in the Middle East, the first homeland for the Jewish people.
Tiberias carries much honor as one of the holy cities to the Jewish people as well as the first town to be released from British rule in to Jewish rule as the brave Jewish warriors overcame the Arab armies in 1948. Tiberias release from the British Mandate paved the way for other towns across the country. Bravery and determination not void of blood shed and lives lost brought about Israel’s independence. As we celebrate we experience the mix between the joy and the sorrow. This mixture has become present throughout our history and part of our everyday life in the Middle East.
The story of the State of Israel is the continuation of the Jewish history expelled from its homeland 2000 years ago. It is strong faith and longing to return that kept the dream alive as promised to our forefathers by God.
We are proud to witness and be part of a thriving state, 60 years after its establishment. I believe this is a real miracle. Yet we still struggle for our survival confronting terror, religious fundamentalism. So as we celebrate our 60th Independence Day I would like to wish all of our friends a continued connection and friendship uniting all of us in love, peace and development.
Eitan Oved, Councilman
In charge of Security and Foreign Affairs
The Annual Celebration in honor of Rabbi Meir the Miracle Worker
May 18. This was the 141st year that the celebrations are held. It began with a mass prayer session at the “Ez Hahayim” (Tree of Life) Synagogue and continued with a lively procession towards the Tomb of Rabbi Meir including a Hasidic band, drums and a flags display. A record of over 20,000 visitors from across the country participated in the event.
Passover celebrations and events
April 21-24. This year continued the tradition of hosting thousands of visitors from across the country and tourists from all over the world. Visitors could enjoy various Arts and Crafts fairs, open air shows, street parades, guided tours music shows and free activities for children. All these were part of the annual Passover festival of “Tiberias on the Water”. The end of the holiday was concluded with the Mimuna celebration (the traditional Jewish Moroccan festivities marking the return of bread instead of Mazza) held at the municipal beach and open to the public.
Tiberias children salute their homeland
May 5. Over 2300 children participated in this unique event gathering the various youth movements active in the city, educational staff, IDF soldiers and community leaders. This Independence march marked a special salute to 60 years of existence. The event included dances, popular sing-a-long, white and blue balloon flying display and a special performance by the Wizo municipal band.
60th Anniversary Independence Celebrations – Lighting Up the Sky
May 8. As part of the 60th Anniversary Independence Day events, the Events department produced a spectacular musical performance with several attractions lighting up the sky. 20,000 residents and gusts flocked down town and enjoyed various shows by leading Israeli artists and performers. The night was concluded with a breathtaking laser and fire works display.
Tiberias honors its veteran warriors of World War II
May 11. This unique annual event marking the victory over Nazi Germany was produced by the department of absorption at the memorial park across from the Astoria hotel. Russian Consule, Vasili Kobbel was the honorary guest along side other prominent guests. The ceremony included performances by the singer Lev Friedlander who performed songs from the WWII era and dancing.
A Multicultural Celebration for the Newly Arrived Immigrants
May 19. Tiberias has become a home for many Olim (immigrants) in recent years arriving from Ethiopia, Spain, Argentina, Latin America and the various Republics of the Former Soviet Union. The department of Absorption in conjunction with the Events department produced a special event with performances by artists from various backgrounds. The event turned out to be a wonderful display of multiculturalism and an expression of the various cultures from the countries of origin.
Lag Ba’omer Celebrations (The annual Jewish Bonfire Holiday)
May 22. Lag Ba'Omer, the thirty-third day of the Omer period between Passover and Shavuot, celebrated with the lighting of bonfires took place across town. The municipality arranged for major areas where bonfires could be jointly lighted and provided all the safety measures necessary.
Memorial Day Events:
Holocaust Memorial Day Events – Voice of the Children
April 30. The event that took place at the Yad Shitrit Cultural center focused this year on the voice of the children victims and survivors of the Holocaust. The Yad Shitrit school of Theatre actors performed moving monologs written by children who survived or recorded evidence. In addition, performances by the Wizo music school and other local artists. The second part of the ceremony revealed the testimony of three Holocaust survivors who went through the war as children: Tischler Koka with her grandson Asaf Kadra, Efrayim Shmilovich with his grandson Yagel David and Shifra Sternberg with her grandson Yossi Trachman. The audience heard their horrifying testimony.
Memorial Day Events – The Fallen Soldiers
May 4. As Israel marked its 60th Anniversary, Tiberias marked its 60th year for the return of the city to Jewish rule. Several memorial events were held across town. A memorial service at the Yad Labanim Memorial Hall was held with the representatives from the various youth organizations active in Tiberias. On May 6th, the central ceremony took place at the memorial for the Fallen in the Old City. On May 7th a memorial procession took place from Shimon garden to the military cemetery lead by Mayor Oved, town council members and school students.
Tiberias Child Violinist invited to participate in International Concert in Moscow
May 13. Viki Gelman, Tiberias 5th grade student has been invited to participate in the International Childrens Festival to be held in the Kremlin, Moscow. This prestigious event is the initiative of the Spibakov Foundation. It is the 5th year in a row that it is being held offering talented children artists in areas of music, dancing and painting from across the globe to perform and create.
The Annual OKIE Young Pianist Competition Winner performs in Tiberias
May 14. Anna Starzec, a graduate student at Oklahoma City University majoring in piano performance who won the OKIE Young Artist competition and arrived in Israel for a piano performance tour. As part of the tour, Ms. Starzec performed at the Tiberias Wizo school of music to a fascinated crowd. This great opportunity for experiencing culture at its best is a unique experience made possible by the Oklahoma Israel Exchange (OKIE).
Scotland Festival at the Scots Hotel
May 25. This annual event spanning a week of celebrations opened with a grand concert by the Raanana Symphonette and other leading performers. The week provided participants with various Scotch and beer tastings and workshops, gourmet food classes and meals, Scottish and Celtic musical performances and more.
Round Table Volunteering forum expanding collaboration
April 9. The forum, giving roof to all 47 volunteering organizations operating in Tiberias and coordinating the activities, held a ceremonial Passover toast to celebrate a year of activity. Mayor Oved who participated expressed satisfaction from the expansion of collaborative efforts and spoke of future plans to build the municipal volunteering center.
Volunteer high school students painting the town
April 8. The Tiberias Ort students initiated this unique project for enhancing and improving public buildings. Lead by the Ort art teacher Ludmila Senina and the volunteer coordinator Eti Zadok-Haker, the students painted various public buildings with innovative paintings including the municipal Youth center. This is part of an overall volunteering project where bye high school students join a volunteering initiative. Currently over 150 students (ages 14-18) participate in volunteering activities such as assistants to Paramedics at the Red Magen David station, assisting the social workers at the social services department, after school activities for disadvantaged children and home help.
Living with Dignity
May 14. In a open ceremony held at the Ceasar’s Hotel in Tiberias, the municipal social services department launched the new project “Community supporting independent life in Tiberias”. This project made possible by several organizations including the UJC and the Jewish Federation of Minneapolis offers a set of valuable services to the physically challenged population enabling to lead independent lives. The services offered include: a 24 hour emergency alert button, emergency medical services on call, leisure activities, home maintenance assistance, personal and professional guidance etc.
Development and Public Construction:
Northern promenade construction and paving begins
April 29. Another major step in creating a continuum for the Sea of Galilee Surounding trail with the beginning of paving and construction of the northern promenade. This will improve public accessibility to the beaches with walking and bike routes, lighting and seating corners. The construction and paving of the Yigal Alon promenade continues near the Tiberias marina and will be completed shortly.
Khan Court Development works in progress
May 20. As part of the overall program for rejuvenating Tiberias town center, the Khan Court (El Omar Mosque) has been under construction and will be concluded shortly. This projects joins other recently concluded projects such as the wall painting on Lev Hagalil building, Ceasar’s garden, the northern promende, Yigal Alon promenade and more.
Opening the bathing season
April 15. The eve of the Passover holiday marked the opening of the bathing season at the local beaches. One million NIS where spent on major upgrading improvements in the 8 public beaches including: a children’s playing zone at the municipal beach, a family camping site at the separate beach, sun sheds and pavilion, green areas expanded. During the summer, various cultural and artistic performances will take place along the beaches.
Tiberias blossoming tourists in Spring
April 29. The Passover holiday witnessed a surge of tourists visiting the city including guests of the hotels and visitors to the public beaches. This adds up to the general statistics of the 1st quarter in 2008 showing a 76% increase in tourists staying at the hotels.
Being prepared - another comprehensive emergency drill
April 8. Tiberias municipal emergency services participated in another comprehensive national war drill. All emergency services participated according to conclusion from the 2nd Lebanese war results. Sirens were sounded across town and students from all schools practiced entering the shelters. Yaacov Zigdon, Tiberias municipality general manager who commanded the drill marked that the purpose was to see how all systems work together under pressure.
Historical visit by Worms delegation in Tiberias
April 28. An official delegation from Worms, Tiberias twin-city since 1986 from Germany, visited and met with Mayor Oved. The delegation with over 50 participants was lead by Dr. Joseph Mattes and his wife Traudel who were recently appointed to be the new contact persons for this twin city relationship by Mayor Kissel of Worms. However, they are by no means new to this connection and have been active especially in regards to exchanges of school and cultural delegations. The visit was in conjunction with the 60th anniversary celebrations and offered support and sharing of the celebration as expressed in a heartwarming letter from Mayor Kissel to Mayor Oved that the delegation delivered. Along with Dr. and Ms. Mattes, was Director of the municipal Archive in Worms Dr. Gerard Bonnen. Nehama Fischbein, Neomi Truman and Ilanit Malma, Foreign Affairs committee member assisted in the project. A visit of Mayor Kissel is planned in 2009.
Independence Day visit from Montpellier
May 8. A mixed delegation of Christians and Jews from our twin city of Montpellier in France arrived to celebrate the Israeli Independence Day in Tiberias. Councilman Eitan Oved escorted them on a tour of the town and they participated in the spectacular festivities of the day, including the laser and fireworks display.
Officials from Feodosia in the Ukraine visiting
May 13. A high ranking official (Son of the late former Mayor of Feodosia and representative of the current Mayor) accompanied by Ukranian Embassy representative visited Tiberias. He met with Mayor Oved to discuss shared interest. Feodosia is located on the Cremerian Peninsula with 100,000 citizens on the shores of the Black Sea with over 2500 years of history. Its economy is largely based on tourism and the similarities to Tiberias are clear. After meeting with Mayor Oved, the visitors accompanied Councilman Eitan Oved on a tour of the town. Mayor Oved was officially invited to visit Feodosia and advanced actions are being made for preparation for future collaboration.
From the French Riviera to the Sea of Galilee
May 10-14. Mayor George Ginesta of Saint Raphael accompanied by his wife Madeleine, Mr. Gabriel Aymard Head of the Jewish Community of Saint Raphael and other leading officials have arrived for a return visit for the purpose of signing the final accord of the twin city agreement. Initiated by Madeleine Ginesta who is a staunch supporter of Israel, this civil diplomacy act was developed over the course of the past 2 years to its current fruition. The delegation had a chance to visit 2 local kindergartens where the children performed Israeli song and dance, participate in a concert at the local music school, toured the historical and archeological sites of the town. They also visited the important Christian religious sites of Tabgha, Mt. Beatitudes, Capernaum, and Domus Galilee. In addition, they visited the Jordan River baptism site (The Yardenit). This 4 day official visit, carefully planned and executed by Councilman Eitan Oved with the assistance of many of the Foreign Affairs committee members: Ilanit Malma, Hana Persi, Guy Shabi, was very fruitful and marked the launch of several cultural, tourism and community initiatives.
Tiberias Marine center hosted the Olympic Kayak competition for ages 10-16
April 11. Over 100 competitors participated in this national event. Tiberias Kayak rowers won 4 gold medals with impressive achievements.
The Golden team – more achievements for Tiberias Skiff rowers
April 24-26. The Tiberias team shined again in the spring national competition held in the Yarkon River in Tel Aviv. The Tiberias team won 32 gold medals, 10 silver and 3 bronze. Worth mentioning is the gold medal won by our very own Councilman Eitan Oved. Following this continued success, the Tiberias team will participate in several upcoming international events: The World Championship in Munich Germany; The youth competition in Lynch Austria and the World Cup in Poznan Poland. This will help determine the criteria for the Olympic team to Beijing.
The 1st annual Extreme water sports happening and open competition
May 30-31. For the 1st year and with hope of establishing a new annual tradition, the extreme water sports happening was launched with thousands of surfers, skiers, barefoot skiers, water skateboard and more, from Israel and abroad flocked the Sironit beach. The organizers produced a colorful event including musical performances, children’s activities, fine food and more. The first Israeli extreme water sports championship 2008 was concluded successfully.