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Press Release – 29 November 2007

“Countdown To 60” event kicks off Israel’s 60th Yom Ha’atzmaut in Victoria

More than 200 community members attended “Countdown To 60” last night, officially launching a year of celebration for Israel’s 60th Yom Ha’atzmaut. The State Zionist Council of Victoria joined forces with the Zionist Federation of Australia; WIZO Victoria; National Council of Jewish Women of Australia (Victoria) and Emunah to co-host the event, held at Beth Weizmann.

The event date was specifically chosen to fall on the eve of November 29, 1947, exactly 60 years to the day of the successful United Nation’s Resolution 181, calling for the
Partition of British-mandate Palestine into 2 states – most significantly, a homeland for the Jewish people.

The evening opened with an audio visual presentation called “3 minutes, 2000 years”. The presentation recalls the tense 3 minutes at the United Nations when Israel was internationally recognised as the modern Jewish state, and traces how the excitement swelled and spilled over into the streets of the newly-born Israel.

Speakers focused on the significance of the UN vote; Israel’s achievements over 60 years and contributions to the world, as well as Israeli culture with both dance and musical presentations.

Merav Bloch, a young community leader, spoke of the significance, impact, and ramifications of UN Resolution 181, particularly Australia’s key role.

The function’s keynote address was delivered by Eli Yerushalmi, the Israeli Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission. Yerushalmi delighted the audience with many examples of Israel’s innovations and contributions to the world in the hi-tech, medical, academic, educational, scientific and humanitarian fields.

Dr Orly Lacham-Kaplan, a scientist at the Monash Institute of Reproduction and Development, whose own work in in-vitro fertilisation research has won accolades, talked about Israel’s Nobel laureates. A total of 8 Israelis have been awarded Nobel Prizes including Menachem Begin, Yitzchak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Shai Agnon. Dr Lacham-Kaplan attributed deep Jewish curiosity to the reason behind so many Nobel wins relative to population.

Last night’s launch event was entertaining as well as informative; as NCJWA (Vic) President Susie Ivany commented, “What is a celebration without entertainment?” The audience was treated to an extremely funny sketch by “Golda Meir” aka Faye Joske; an Israeli musical performance by Miri Mor and Oded Gordon and Israeli folk dancing by Nirkoda.


Ginette Searle, Executive Director of the SZCV officially launched the 60th Yom Ha’atzmaut year and unveiled the logo (see title) created in Israel and distributed to Jewish communities world-wide to brand our events. The 2008 calendar is already full of exciting events planned by local organisations. The Zionist Federation is coordinating a communal calendar on their website and organisations are invited to add their own Yom Ha’atzmaut 60 events. Ms Searle affirmed, “This is the year for celebration, engagement and solidarity”.

For more information contact:
SZCV Executive Director, Ginette Searle 9272-5544
SZCV Director OF Public Affairs, Elly Shalev 9272-5519