Miami-Dade County

Hundreds gather to celebrate Israel and its independence

Attendees look at the gallery of photos from around Israel displayed during Israel's 69th Independence Reception on Sunday, May 21, 2017, at FIU's Biscayne Campus.
Attendees look at the gallery of photos from around Israel displayed during Israel's 69th Independence Reception on Sunday, May 21, 2017, at FIU's Biscayne Campus. The Miami Herald

Each of the 22 photos on display at the State of Israel’s 69th Independence Day and the 50th anniversary of the Reunification of Jerusalem celebration held Sunday night brought Lauren Efron Magen back to the six years she lived in Israel.

A photo of the cellphone next to the Western Wall reminded her of the history. A picture of a little girl in a building brought her back to the villages of Israel. And a picture of people praying at the Western Wall gave her hope for the future.

“These pictures make me really emotional and remind me of how much I love the country,” said Efron Magen, who took cellphone shots of the pictures, which were lined up in the hallway of the Kovens Conference Center at Florida international University’s Biscayne Bay campus in Northeast Miami-Dade.

The display was the result of a worldwide contest that drew 45,000 pictures of Jerusalem by the Jewish National Fund and the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It had its debut at the celebration, which included hundreds of people including politicians and clergy.

“The idea was to see how people saw Jerusalem,” said Roni Raab, executive director of the Jewish National Fund South Florida.

The yearly celebration of Israel’s independence day coincided with the 50th anniversary of Israel’s victory in the 1967 Six Day War, which resulted in the reclaiming of Jerusalem.

Consul General Lior Haiat said it was a perfect marriage to recognize both important events.

“It shows Miami stands with Israel,” he said.

Haiat said that the timing was also right, being that it was one day before President Donald Trump was set to go to Israel.

“Every visit of an American president to Israel is important,” he said. “We are very excited to have the president of the U.S. coming to Israel. It sends a message that the US stand with Israel.”

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