S.F.s daylong Israel celebration goes onstage April 29

The event, which includes activities for the whole family, will take place from 1:30 to 9 p.m. at the Nob Hill Masonic Center. It will be followed by a chagiga gathering for young adults at 9.

Special entertainment includes Israeli children's entertainer Hanny Nahmias at 2:30 p.m. A Family Fair, with activities from storytelling for the youngest participants to short Israeli films for the grownups, will follow from 4 to 6 p.m.

Israeli rock singer-songwriter Shalom Hanoch and his eight-piece band will top off the day at 6:30 p.m.

Singer Dana Berger, named Israel's "female vocalist of the year" in 2000 after the release of her album "To the Edge," will join Hanoch for several songs.

So, why the change in format this year?

"For many years, our community's Israel Independence Day celebration has been an outdoor festival held weeks after the true date of the holiday, in hope of the best possible weather," said Rabbi Doug Kahn, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council.

"This year, the sponsoring organizations decided for a change of venue for several reasons, including the full partnership of the Consulate General of Israel in planning an outstanding day."

The JCRC along with the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation and the JCF's Israel Center have been instrumental in bringing the festival to fruition each year. The Jewish Bulletin and Bureau of Jewish Education are also sponsors of the event, which receives funding from Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund, the Alon Family Foundation and the Gilo Family Foundation.

The Masonic hall will be transformed into a Tel Aviv beach scene for the Family Fair activities.

Kids can get creative and make peace candles, treasure boxes and crowns of Israel, or they can dress up in costumes for picture-taking. Face-painting, percussion playtime and a toddler play area will be located near the faux Mediterranean. Storytellers Jennifer Levine and Noa Baum will entertain.

Adults can folk dance, shop for Israeli food products, videos and CDs, or sneak away to a darkened room to watch the latest episodes of popular Israeli television shows including "Florentene," "The Bourgeoisie," "Bat Yam-New York" and "Kineret's Secrets."

Nahmias, who will be on hand to meet fans at the Family Fair, has entertained children in Israel for 22 years on television, through videos and with music. Her television shows — she's had seven different series –have given many children their first lessons in reading and writing.

At "Israel on Stage," she will involve kids from the audience in her act. She performs along with a magician in English with songs in Hebrew and English.

Rock legend Hanoch is making a first-time appearance in San Francisco. His album "Hatuna Lavana," produced in the 1980s, has been called one of the country's most versatile rock productions.

Hanoch's show will be filled with rhythm and nostalgia as he and his band play hits from recent albums as well as his old classics, including "Shabol: White Wedding."

Hanoch rose to fame in the 1970s when he began performing with Arik Einstein, then one of the most popular singers in Israel. He became the fifth singer in Einstein's four-man group and was called the "fifth Beatle."

As Hanoch gained an audience of his own, he developed an innovative rock style and in 1977 released his first solo album, "Adam B'Toach Atzmo." In 1998, after 19 years of separation, Hanoch and Einstein returned to the music scene in a reunion tour.