Positive vibes reverberate at party for the Jewish state

After what seemed like the wettest rainy season ever, it’s time to be firmly optimistic: Go ahead and stash that umbrella, break out the sunscreen and get thee to the ultimate harbinger of summer, Israel in the Gardens.

It’s the Bay Area’s annual flash mob of love for the Jewish state.

Produced as always by the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation and the Israel Center, Israel in the Gardens will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 5 at Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco.

Thousands celebrate at last year’s Israel in the Gardens.

Usually around 20,000 Israel-loving party people show up, ready for music, dancing, picnicking, falafel, hummus and other Israeli-style treats.

With all the tsuris surrounding Israel most of the time, this is one day to celebrate.

For this year’s festival, organizers have stuck with the tried-and-true, plus a few innovations.

As always, representatives from across the spectrum of Bay Area Jewish life — including synagogues, agencies and other communal organizations — will be on hand, manning booths and pulling off the best meet-and-greet on the local Jewish calendar.

The Kids’ Zone, sponsored by Be’chol Lashon, will keep the kinderlach happy. And the customary array of tempting foods for sale is guaranteed to satiate all appetites.

As in years past, the Tzofim Friendship Caravan returns for the 2011 event. The 10 talented Israeli scouts are currently on tour, performing their style of song-and-dance across the country as they represent the best of Israeli youth. Israel in the Gardens is always one of the highlights of their itinerary.

The live entertainment runs nonstop. Taking the stage are local youth ensembles such as the Tikvah Dancers (a program of the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco), the Contra Costa Jewish Day School Rock Band, youth choirs from Peninsula Temple Sholom and Peninsula Temple Beth El, and – watch out, Beastie Boys — the 99 Llamas, a young rap trio from Contra Costa Jewish Day School.

Headliners Knessyiat HaSekhel, one of Israel’s most venerable and popular rock bands, perform at 3 p.m. But don’t bring your ear plugs — they’ll be accompanied by an orchestral ensemble to soften things up.

Cinephiles can slip across the street to the Contemporary Jewish Museum for this year’s mini film festival, composed of nine short films by students at Jerusalem’s Sam Spiegel Film and Television School.

And when all the feasting, grooving and browsing is done, there’s the Tzvata after-party, which starts at 5:30 p.m. at Manor West on Harrison Street. The event for young adults is expected to go on til the wee hours of the night.

Israel in the Gardens is that one time of the year when the entire Bay Area Jewish community comes together, united in a common purpose: to stand as one with Israel.

So round up the kids, the grandkids, the grandparents, and that crazy uncle in the attic.

Israel in the Gardens awaits.

For more information on Israel in the Gardens, see the program guide at the center of this supplement, or visit