Israel in the Gardens set for Sunday in S.F.

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San Francisco takes on a Hebrew accent this weekend, as Israel in the Gardens returns for its 13th annual celebration of the Jewish state.

The free event, which takes place Sunday, June 2  from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Yerba Buena Gardens, will feature live music from Israeli performers, a kids’ area and booths hosted by organizations from across the Jewish universe. Last year, an estimated 15,000 people attended on a beautiful, 80-degree day.

Headlining the main stage this year is Israeli superstar and former Sheva front man Mosh Ben-Ari, who will perform at 3:15 p.m. Several supporting acts, both local and Israeli, will be performing the rest of the day, both on the main stage and in the Be’chol Lashon Kids and Family Zone.

photo/sue fishkoff At last year’s festival, thousands listen to Balkan Beat Box. photo/sue fishkoff

Organizers have added several innovations to this year’s festival, including Innovation Alley and the appearance of two food trucks.

Innovation Alley is a pageant of high-tech razzle-dazzle presented by Israeli companies, including the arts website Ziibra, the clothing design site Instapparel and the flirting app Tapp App. All will be demonstrating their products.

For attendees who get hungry, the Old World Food Truck and La Falafel will be parked across the street, in front of the Contemporary Jewish Museum, selling items such as chicken schnitzel sandwiches, smoked fish, pierogis, chilled borscht and falafel sandwiches.

At last year’s festival, a flag-hoisting youngster gets a helping hand. photo/sue fishkoff

The Tel Aviv Plaza, a recreation of the breezy Tel Aviv lifestyle, will bring a touch of Dizengoff Street to the festivities. Sponsored by the Israeli Consulate, it will feature a backgammon tournament, Israeli folk dancing, Zumba classes and a fashion show.

The annual festival of Israeli animated and short films returns, with continuous screenings at the Contemp-orary Jewish Museum, and artisans will once again be selling their Judaica.

Several awards will be presented during the day, including the Israel In Our Hearts Awards and the Roselyn C. Swig Tikkun Olam Innovation Prize. At 1:30 p.m., attendees are invited to join “Walk the Land, Israel 65,” an opportunity to wave the Israeli flag on a march around the perimeter of the grounds.

But it won’t just be the walkers who get to express their feelings. With crowds in past years topping 20,000, Israel in the Gardens is the Bay Area’s largest, most visible and most passionate demonstration of support for the Jewish state. — dan pine

Dan Pine

Dan Pine is a contributing editor at J. He was a longtime staff writer at J. and retired as news editor in 2020.