‘Reflection, connection and celebration’: UJIA marks Israel’s 76th birthday

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‘Reflection, connection and celebration’: UJIA marks Israel’s 76th birthday

More than 260 guests join October 7th survivors, Chief Rabbi Mirvis and Ambassador Hotovely for Yom Ha'atzmaut business breakfast

UJIA Business Breakfast May 2024. Pic: Michelle Rosenberg
UJIA Business Breakfast May 2024. Pic: Michelle Rosenberg

The UK’s biggest Israel charity raised more than £191k from hundreds of supporters in central London on Tuesday 14th May for its annual Yom Ha’atzmaut business breakfast.

UJIA chief executive officer Mandie Winston opened the proceedings at the Sheraton Grand, Park Lane by reading in full the 1948 Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel.

Welcoming guests to a “morning of reflection, connection and celebration of Israel’s achievements, resilience and diverse and courageous people” Winston said 2024 had “probably been the most difficult and traumatic year” since the birth of the State and that UJIA was grateful “to congregate here in London to celebrate Israel’s 76th birthday.”

Guests included Robert Halpern, Conservative MP for Harlow, Lee Rowley, Conservative MP for North East Derbyshire, Phil Rosenberg, newly elected president of the Board of Deputies, Dov Forman, the great grandson of Holocaust survivor Lily Ebert, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and Tzipi Hotovely, Israeli Ambassador to the UK.

In her address, Hotovely said: “In a way, since the 7th October, history is demanding from us that Israel is reborn, to stop fighting with each other about nonsense, and to start looking at the big mission of the Jewish people. To bring hope to the world and to make sure that our young generation is connected to their identity. No organisation does it better than UJIA.”

Yifat and Shaked Porat. Pic: Michelle Rosenberg

Guests of honour were Yifat and Shaked Porat, October 7th survivors from Kibbutz Mefalsim, which is part of the UJIA partnership with the Jewish Agency of Israel’s initiative to establish connections between the affected kibbutzim in the South and Jewish communities in the Diaspora.

Following a fundraising appeal led by incoming UJIA chair Zvi Noe, Chief Rabbi Mirvis told the assembled guests: “When we are together, when we are united, we are strong and that’s why there is so much room for hope today.”

UJIA Chair Zvi Noe, Chief Rabbi Mirvis and Ambassador Hotovely. Pic UJIA

Comic Relief former chair Eric Salama was then interviewed in conversation with journalist Sandy Rashty, with topics including his decision to step down after the charity signed a petition calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and Israel, which was supported by more than 750 charities.

UJIA’s Anthony Shaw told Jewish News: “This year it was more important than ever to come together on Yom Ha’atzmaut, both to celebrate Israel at 76 and show solidarity for our homeland during what remains a challenging time.”

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