SOURCE: Consulate General of Israel, Los Angeles

September 29, 2008 16:03 ET

Thousands Witness Historic Flag Raising Commemorating Israel's 60th Anniversary

Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa Among Speakers

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - September 29, 2008) - With thousands of Southlanders looking on, history was made on Sunday, Sept. 28, when the Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles became the first Israeli Consulate office in North America to fly the flag of Israel outside its front door. The more than 7,000 people in attendance at the event, which was held to commemorate Israel's 60th anniversary, can be traced to Los Angeles' unique position as home to the world's largest Israeli community, outside of Israel itself.

Speaking before the overflowing crowd at 6380 Wilshire Blvd. were Consul General of Israel Jacob Dayan and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. During a trip to Israel earlier this year, Villaraigosa was personally presented the flag that now flies outside the Consulate by Israel's President Shimon Peres.

Villaraigosa told those on hand Sunday, "For 60 years, Israel has stood as a beacon of light, hope, and freedom across the world. This City is proud to fly the flag of the Jewish state, to share the values of pluralism and innovation with the Jewish people, and to state clearly and unequivocally that Los Angeles stands with Israel in its pursuit of peace, safety, and security."

During the emotionally impactful event, a U.S. Marine who served in Iraq first raised the American flag. He was followed by a member of the California National Guard, who raised California's flag. History was then made when two Israel Defense Forces soldiers -- a young man and young woman -- raised the flag of Israel.

Commenting on the historic event, Dayan said, "Israel and the United States have built an unwavering bond. Over the years," he added, "a similarly strong, mutually beneficial bond has been formed between Israel and California. It is only fitting, then, that these three flags will now fly side by side on one of Los Angeles' most-traveled streets."

The commemoration was purposefully scheduled to precede Rosh Hashanah -- the Jewish New Year. Just as Rosh Hashanah marks a new beginning on the Jewish calendar, the waving of the Blue and White Star of David on Wilshire Boulevard similarly marks a first. Other event highlights included Grammy-winner Macy Gray, accompanied by a gospel choir, singing America's national anthem, as well as acclaimed Israeli-born actress and singer Noa Tishby singing Israel's national anthem.

A host of dignitaries were also on hand, including several Consul Generals from other countries: State Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, Los Angeles City Council Members Wendy Greuel, Bill Rosendahl, Jack Weiss, and Dennis Zine, and Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky.

As part of this historic flag-raising event, and as a further reflection of the special relationship that exists between the golden state and the land of milk and honey, children from area synagogues brought Rosh Hashanah cards that will be sent to youngsters in Israel. To further reflect the deep partnership and sense of commitment between Los Angeles and Israel, a blood drive to benefit patients at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles was conducted in collaboration with Bikur Cholim, a nonprofit organization that organizes the second largest number of blood drives in Los Angeles. The event was sponsored, in part, by a variety of community organizations including the Israel Leadership Council and the Jewish Federation.

An official office of the government of Israel, the Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles is one of Israel's largest diplomatic missions worldwide, covering the Southwest region of the United States including Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming. The Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles can be reached at (323) 852-5500 or online at www.israeliconsulatela.org.

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