Tens of thousands of celebrants, of all ages, are expected to attend the upcoming 21st Annual Israel Day Concert in Central Park this coming Sunday, June 1. The annual concert marks the 47th anniversary of Israel's victory in the Six-Day War and the re-unification of Jerusalem, and has taken place every year - free of admission - since 1993 from 2:30-7:30 p.m., come rain or shine, after the Salute to Israel Parade.
The concert's "themes" this year, as always, reflect its roots in Israel's nationalist movement. According to Dr. Joseph and Karen Frager, long-time organizers, and Dr. Paul and Drora Brody, Chairpersons for the past nine years, this year's themes include "Jerusalem - United Forever", as well as calls to thwart Iran's nuclear program and counter the anti-Israel BDS movement.
The Concert, hailed as "the largest Rally of its kind in North America, possibly in the world", is sponsored by the Israel Concert-In-The-Park Committee, in association with Young Israel Chovevei Zion and the National Council of Young Israel, and is also a special tribute to Carl Freyer, who, together with his wife Sylvia, founded the Concert in response to a call by Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, Chief Rabbi of the Judean town of Efrat, to mount some form of protest to the 1993 Oslo accords.
The pair decided on a concert as the most effective means of bringing out the masses, said one of the event's coordinators Odeleya Jacobs, and from there it became a yearly phenomenon.
Mr. Freyer and his wife were known figures among the Israeli nationalist camp, and were among the founders of Arutz Sheva and the National Jewish Outreach Program (NJOP). The Concert/Rally also salutes noted Jewish activists and philanthropists Dr. Manfred R. Lehmann z'l, who was the event's first Chairman, and Rose and Reuben Mattus, of Haagen-Dazs fame.
Guest speakers will include strong contender for Republican candidate for President, Texas Senator Ted Cruz; Israel's outspoken Deputy Defense Minister MK Danny Danon (Likud), and former US ambassador the the United Nations John Bolton, an expert on Iran and staunch supporter of Israel. Mort Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), will address the assemblage, as well.
Exciting performers include a conglomerate of musical and singing talent. The headliners are Israeli-Sephardic superstar Gad Elbaz, and two returning stars: the masterful hassidic singer and showman Lipa Schmelzer, and Edon, who proudly wore his kippa as he achieved semi-finalist status on "America's Got Talent", who was also one of last year's concert's star attractions.
Other headliners include Chasidic phenom Benny Friedman, veteran singing star Shloime Dachs, dramatic singer Michael Elias, and Jewish rapper Ari Lesser. Elron Zabatani, of Jerusalem's Old City, who electrified the Concert last year, will be accompanied by Shlomi Aharoni, directly from Israel, who is an alumnus of the Rabbinical IDF Orchestra & Choir. Chaim Kiss, a seasoned veteran of the Israel Day Concert, will be returning to join the festivities. Rising star Nachas will be making his first appearance at the Concert. Shloime Dachs is the Orchestra leader; Zvika Bornstein is the musical director. The seasoned Nachum Segal will emcee.