Danny Danon at Israel Day Concert in NYC
Danny Danon at Israel Day Concert in NYCArutz Sheva

The music rocked the house and the message rocked the world.

Drizzles of rain could not dampen the enthusiasm and spirit of those who came from far and wide to participate in Sunday’s Israel Day Concert in Central Park, many of whom were dressed and draped in Israeli flags and other pro-Israel insignia. The concert, now in its 24th year, was particularly powerful this year, as it heralded the 50th anniversary of Israel’s resounding victory in the Six Day War and the resulting reunification of Yerushalayim. It followed the massive Israel Day Parade down Fifth Avenue, and amplified the Parade’s message.

The Israel Day Concert was arranged by renowned pro-Israel activists Dr. Joseph Frager, Dr. Paul Brody and Mrs. Odeleya Jacobs, VP of Business Development and Public Policy for the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce. Dr. Brody and his wife Drora chaired the event and coined the concert theme “Concert with a Message.”

The concert is dedicated in memory of Carl Freyer z”l, Dr. Manfred R. Lehman and his Eishet Chayil Anne z”l and Rose and Reuben Mattus z”l. Dr. Frager and Dr. Brody, as well as Nachum Segal, served as emcees for the event, imparting the message of the day to the crowd and introducing the individual speakers. The concert coincided with the first yartzeit of legendary pro-Israel philanthropist Dr. Irving Moskowitz z”l. A special tribute to the late doctor and his wife Cherna, who is continuing his legacy, was made by their grandson Rabbi Yechezkel Moskowitz.

The atmosphere was palpably jubilant and optimistic. “Coming from the UN, I’m not used to seeing so many supporters of Israel,” quipped Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon from the podium. “We are here to send a strong message to the UN and UNESCO: ‘Jerusalem is the united capital of the Jewish people – period!’” These are not merely words. As Dr. Frager noted in his introduction, Ambassador Danon has done more than any individual in history to improve Israel’s standing in the UN.

The concert lasted nearly five hours, but the energy in the air only intensified as the clock ticked. With a massive stage adorned by American and Israeli flags as the backdrop, the Shloime Dachs Orchestra and Singers, along with a diverse range of superstar performers – Israeli, American, Sephardic, Chassidic – entertained the similarly diverse crowd, who, more often than not, swaying and/or dancing live to the music. Dr. Brody stressed how broad a spectrum of Jewry the music touches. The list of singers included Shloime Dachs, Michoel Pruzansky, Beri Weber, Dr. Meyer Abittan, Jerry Markovitz, Izzy Kiefer and Heshy R, Avi Kilimnick, “Mr. Shabbos” Josh Alpert, White Shabbos and Bezalel Levin. Special guest performers from Israel were Mati Shriki, Tal Vaknin, Elron Zabatani, who resides in the “Muslim Quarter” of the Old City, and pianist Shlomi Aharoni.

And while song flavors were diverse, the theme amongst all songs of the day was common: pride in being Jewish and being connected to the Land of Israel; the beauty of Yerushalayim; and the importance of achdut, unity, among all segments of Jewry. One particular musical highlight was the first public debut of “Tivne Chomot Yerushalayim,” a moving song composed by Duvi Honig, Founder and CEO of the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce – which was sung by Tal Vaknin.

Between music and songs, a group of leading VIPs and staunch pro-Israel leaders delivered concise-yet-powerful addresses highlighting the importance of the miracle of half-century ago, as well as the importance of American Jewry using every resource at its disposal to battle on behalf of Israel.

Voices from the Front Lines

Dani Dayan, Consul General of Israel in New York, glowed as he relayed to the crowd the recent meeting he held with 250 American boys and girls who have volunteered to serve in the IDF. “These are 250 punches to the BDS movement,” Ambassador Dayan thundered. He marveled at the eternal connection to Israel felt by all of world Jewry. “For 2,000 years, they tried to make us forget Yerushalayim…We returned and we will never leave again!”

Dov Kalmanovitz, Deputy Mayor of Yerushalayim, spoke with powerful emotion of his journey, having his face badly burned by a Palestinian terrorist during the first Intifada. Despite the significant long term damage to his face, he and his family persevered with incredible strength. The Deputy Mayor has been a pillar of support for countless terror victims, including a young girl named Yael whose inspiring journey he recounted at the concert.

Several speakers, including former UN Ambassador John Bolton, former top Trump advisor Boris Epshteyn, Aaron Klein of Breitbart Jerusalem Bureau, and Fox News contributor Pete Hegseth, spoke of how the alliance between the U.S. and Israeli governments has significantly strengthened since Donald Trump took the oath of office. They particularly noted the high priority that the President placed on Israel on his recent foreign trip, the first of his presidency. Ambassador Bolton stressed that while he and others were disappointed in the Trump administration’s recent announcement that the U.S. Embassy will not be moved to Yerushalayim for now, the Ambassador is “convinced” that it remains a long term goal for the administration.

Among other speakers, Farley Weiss, National President of the National Council of Young Israel, stressed the importance of the global war on radical Islamic terror. Coming on the heels of the London and Manchester attacks, this danger is felt more acutely the world over. And Israel is an indispensable ally for all Western nations in this battle. Ken Abramowitz, Rivka Abbe and others at the podium highlighted the importance of pro-Israel activism among all generations of American Jewry.

Morton Klein, President of the Zionist Organization of America, stressed the historical Jewish connection to the Land of Israel, in contrast to the historical Muslim indifference to the Land, even to Yerushalayim itself. This connection made the reunification of the Holy City so meaningful.

Ken Abramowitz, Rivka Abbe and others at the podium highlighted the importance of pro-Israel activism among all generations of American Jewry. Mark Levenson, Chairman of the New Jersey-Israel Commission, recounted the legendary words of Har Habayit B’yadeinu crackling over IDF radio at the end of the Six Day War – “the most beautiful words the Jewish People have heard in 2,000 years” – and elaborated upon the enormous social and economic progress that Israel has experienced since then.

Nevertheless, Mr. Levenson stressed that there is still lots of work to be done, especially to battle the BDS movement and other Western anti-Israel forces. He proudly noted that New Jersey enacted landmark anti-BDS legislation, following a strong effort by Mr. Levenson and other activists. Noted IDF combat veteran and former Knesset member Yoni Chetboun, author of Under Fire, was among the many guests who traveled from Israel in order to attend the event. “In Israel, we see what’s around us,” he remarked, “but when we come here and see thousands of American Jews and non-Jews coming out in support of Israel, it gives us ‘chizuk.’

Mrs. Odeleya Jacobs, one of the event organizers, explains the deep emotions that she and other American organizers and attendees feel regarding the celebration. “This concert was a message to the world to strengthen the fact that Hashem gave Eretz Yisroel to the Jewish People,” she explained. “We are here to celebrate the miracle Hashem performed on our behalf fifty years ago when we got ‘Eretz Yisroel Hashleima,’ all of Eretz Yisroel. May Hashem continue to bless the Am HaYehudi.