I wish all my readers who have ever benefitted from the freedoms offered by the United States of America a happy Fourth of July holiday.
Yesterady I attended the annual July 4th celebration hosted by the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel. It was held at Kraft Stadium (which is not really a stadium, more of a very large, astroturf-covered, playing field, with bleachers and a few grassy areas next to it). It was a really nice event. On one grassy area there was a crafts fair; another grassy area held the AACI annual Yard Sale, where families were selling clothes, videotapes, toys, and housewares. I bought a copy of The Great Gatsby for 3 shekels (about 70 cents). In between, Jerusalem's Burger's Bar restaurant had set up a stand where one could buy hamburgers, hot dogs, pareve ice cream, and drinks. Nearby someone was selling cotton candy.
There were a LOT of people. Lots of pushing and squeezing to get through the food area. The smell of grilling meat wafted through the hot July air. "Mommy, I want ice cream!" "Abba, can I have cotton candy?" "Stay close to me. Don't get lost." On the field, teenagers were playing flag football on one end, and the little kids had story hour on the other. Red, white and blue balloons waved in the air from strings tied to children's wrists. Most of the people were American and Canadian, but I did hear a surprisingly significant amount of native-spoken Hebrew, perhaps by Israelis who saw the balloons and heard the marching band and decided to stop and see what was happening.
My hamburger was too big for me and I went home feeling rather full and sick, but happy to have gotten out and had a barbecue on a July evening. It felt rather surreal to have a traditional Fourth of July event in Israel, though truthfully I think most people were there just having a good time, not really thinking much about American independence . . . probably just as we all would have been doing had we stayed in the States.