The Southern Oregon Jewish communities of Temple Emek Shalom and Havurah Shir Hadash unite to celebrate this historic event on the first weekend in May.

Israel's 61st anniversary of independence will be celebrated in Israel on the eve of today and Wednesday. Around the world, Jewish communities will join in this celebration of their spiritual homeland. The Southern Oregon Jewish communities of Temple Emek Shalom and Havurah Shir Hadash unite to celebrate this historic event on the first weekend in May.

"It is wonderful to have the entire community come together to celebrate, and it is so important for us to raise awareness about the positive contributions Israel has made to the world," said Andrea Shupack, program director of Temple Emek Shalom.

Highlights include:

On Saturday at 7 p.m. the Havurah will present the film "The Case for Israel: Democracy's Outpost" with Alan Dershowitz. Rising in defense of the Jewish homeland in this documentary, Dershowitz, Harvard Law School professor and human rights activist, presents diplomats, historians, legal experts and government officials to make a case for Israel's legitimacy and right to self-defense. The evening will be introduced by Rabbi David Zaslow, who will also lead a discussion following the film. The film is free and open to all. The Havurah is located at 185 N. Mountain Ave.

Call 488-7716 for more information.

On Sunday from noon to 3 p.m. the Israeli Independence Day Faire will take place at Temple Emek Shalom, 1800 E. Main St. The faire is a family-oriented event featuring Israeli food (available for purchase), live Israeli music, dance and children's craft activities.

"We invite the public to this free event to experience the diversity of Israeli culture: food, music and dance," said Ayala Zonnenschein, Havurah program director. "Dr. Laura Robin will be teaching Israeli folk dancing and all are invited to participate. There will also be some lovely Israeli products on display for sale."

Call 488-2909 for more information.

Atara and Paul Melo, Havurah members from Mount Shasta, will be bring their portable exhibit, "The Israel Experience," which highlights some of the accomplishments that Israel has achieved in the fields of technology, medicine and science.

"By introducing you to the people and their stories, it is our hope that this land of war and struggle becomes more familiar, more comprehensible, and no longer perceived as a land of camels and tanks," said Atara Melo, who lived in Israel for 30 years.