Israel Independence Day Celebration

Yehuda Willmott, 3, with balloon and Israeli flag, sits on the shoulders of his father, Tal Willmott, of Pikesville, at the April 29 Israel Independence Day Celebration at Towson University. The event included activities for kids and the debut of the documentary film, "Israel Inside." (Submitted photo by David Stuck / April 29, 2012)

A crowd estimated at nearly 1,000 turned out on April 29, for Jewish Baltimore's first community-wide Israel Independence Day celebration, held at Towson University.

The event, sponsored by the new Baltimore Israel Coalition, a consortium of 23 local Jewish nonprofits, as well as more than one dozen synagogues, offered 26 kid-friendly activities, two dozen visiting Israeli artists, a comic presentation by Benji Lovitt and the Baltimore premiere of the documentary, "Israel Inside."

The event was held Sunday afternoon at Towson University's West Village Commons.

The festival was chaired by Ellen Lightman of Pikesville and Brian Sacks and Josh Weintraub, both of Owings Mills.


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Weintraub said he was proud to bring a positive image of Israel to a local college campus.

Organizers said that while Towson specifically has not experienced anti-Israel sentiment on campus, rising anti-Israel sentiment elsewhere has challenged several Jewish activists on college campuses across the country.

Weintraub said the event demonstrates coordinated leadership of the greater Baltimore Jewish community. He said the coalition hopes to offer additional Israel-related programming in the coming year.