Stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel at the Gardens

The weather forecast calls for a better-than-even chance of geshem (that’s Hebrew for “rain”). But since when do 20,000 joy-filled Jews let a little rain stop them from celebrating Israel?

That’s what happens at Israel in the Gardens, which takes place this year starting 11 a.m. Sunday, June 5 at Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco.

Between the delicious food, arts and crafts for sale in the shuk, live music, community agency information booths and ample people-watching opportunities, Israel in the Gardens is about as fun as it gets.

New this year is a fashion show sponsored by JIMENA: Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and Africa. It features a collection of outfits of the sort worn in Tunisia, Libya and Morocco. Let the ululating begin.

Organizers are raffling off a pair of El Al tickets for that dream vacation. If that gets you in the mood for making aliyah, stop by the Nefesh B’Nefesh booth.

Headlining the concert this year is one of the great Israeli bands, Church of Reason. And, lest the weather not cooperate, Israel in the Gardens organizers will erect a canopy over the stage if need be, to keep the performers dry.

The film festival, which includes shorts from the Sam Spiegel School in Jerusalem, will be held across the street at the Contemporary Jewish Museum. It promises to be an aesthetic treat.

Kids have more to do, in terms of activities and all-day crafts projects, then at any Israel in the Gardens event we can recall.

But there is a more important reason to attend.

Around the world, the drumbeat of anti-Israel fervor continues to grow louder every year. Unfortunately, the Bay Area has more than its share of Israel bashers. The Jewish community and its pro-Israel allies have too few forums in which to push back against the vitriol.

Israel in the Gardens is one of the few, and perhaps the most in-your-face of all.

There is only so much any one individual can do to stand up for Israel and make a difference. Collectively, however, we can do a lot. That’s why tremendous attendance at Israel in the Gardens this year is critical.

Yes, the weather report says it may rain on Sunday. Yes, the grass may end up a bit soggy before day’s end. But a standing-room-only crowd of thousands of Bay Area Jews, all standing shoulder to shoulder with Israel, will send a powerful and intimidating message to the haters.

The best part is how easily one can send that message. All you have to do is show up.