LIVINGSTON, NJ — In celebration of Israel’s 70th year of independence, the Livingston Committee for Diversity and Inclusion (LCDI) partnered with the Jewish Federation of Great Metrowest New Jersey and the Township of Livingston to host a community-wide festival at the Oval featuring live music, art projects, an Israeli flag raising ceremony and more.

Despite the cold, wet day, more than 600 area residents attended the event, where they enjoyed kosher food samplings, a children’s concert and rock concert by Pey Dalid Music, Israeli dancing by Krav Maga Gaga, a petting farm and activities fair and a graffiti art project led by Artist4Israel. Inside the library, stories about Israel were read by Seniors for Children and more performances were presented by Israeli pianist and songwriter Gon Halevi, accompanied by jazz guitarist Tal YaHalom.

“The Israel at 70 event really was a wonderful example of the diversity and inclusion that we have in Livingston,” said Mayor Ed Meinhardt. “It just goes to prove what a great town Livingston is with the many diverse cultures that we have and being able to celebrate all of their monumental occasions right here in Livingston just like they do in their home countries. We look forward to celebrating many more cultural highlights that come about.”

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The Israeli flag will fly at the Memorial Oval for the remainder of the week. Prior to raising the flag, Sheri Goldberg, chair of the LCDI subcommittee Livingston Celebrates Israel, thanked the hundreds of residents in attendance for their support despite the weather.

“Israel is 3,000 years old and 70 years young,” she said. “The LCDI is committed to bring our community members together to bond over celebrations of our different groups. Our subcommittee, Livingston Celebrates Israel, is made up community members who were strangers to one another before we started planning this event. We, too, have different customs that we have learned from one another.”

She noted that the members of the subcommittee started with a common goal, and worked through their differences to “compromise for the greater goal making this an inclusive event where all feel respected, included and comfortable.”

“Livingston’s committee to Israel is inspiring, and our commitment to democracy, diversity, respect and inclusion is a shining reflection of who we are,” said Goldberg.

Billy Fine, former LCDI co-chair, said he wore a Taglit T-shirt from his first trip to Israel despite the cold temperatures to help raise the flag “as a symbol of Israeli resilience and fortitude.”

“In celebration of 70 years as a nation devoted to giving a home to citizens of the world, despite many uphill battles throughout the decades, our township has risen to the call in support of the many innovations, advancements and overall culture found in Israel,” said Fine. “A nation which has bound many individuals together in many different ways, not unlike our own United States. Seeing residents from all across New Jersey, many of whom were from our own township, was a beautiful sight.

“Standing together, young and old, different walks of life, all together under the flags of our state, our country and our allied nation Israel's flag—It was an event which was informative, heartfelt, appealed to arts, sciences and humanitarian efforts.”

Fine added that the overall warm sense of community combatted the cold evening. He thanked Meinhardt for his supportive words as well as Deputy Mayor Al Anthony, Councilmen Shawn Klein and Rudy Fernandez, Livingston Board of Educaton members Ronnie Konnor and Pamela Chirls, Assistant Township Manager Russ Jones, Freeholder Pat Seabold and Congressional candidates Mikie Sherrill and Jay Webber for attending.

He said the LCDI was also happy to see new township manager Barry Lewis at one of his first town event, stating that the committee looks forward to working closer with Lewis in the years to come.

“Various community leaders and volunteers made today an overwhelming success,” said Fine. “Days like this make me proud to be a resident of Livingston.”

Goldberg extended the committee’s gratitude toward the police department, the department of public works, the health department, the insurance and risk management department, the Livingston Public Library, the first aid squad, the communications manager, the senior transportation and more for making the event possible.