(JTA) – Actors Shira Haas, Ben Platt and Josh Malina were among the stars who joined a virtual ceremony on April 29 celebrating Israel’s 72nd Independence Day. The hour-long ceremony, organized by the Jewish Federations of North America and broadcast on YouTube and Facebook, also featured a musical performance by Matisyahu. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin also spoke to viewers. The program had been nearly 10,000 views shortly after it finished.
Malina cracked a joke and spoke in Hebrew before speaking. “Yom huledet sameach [happy birthday]! 72 – eze yofi [how beautiful!]! If you ask me you don’t look a day over 70,” the “West Wing” star joked. Platt, who won the Tony Award for his starring role in the musical “Dear Evan Hansen,” appeared with his brothers Ben and Henry. The trio sang the Hebrew song “Ahavat Olam.”
The program also featured an update on how Israeli scientists are working to come up with treatments for fighting the coronavirus and a discussion by chefs from around the world about falafel.
“Although we cannot be together this year, this crisis has made us feel more than ever that we are one family with shared history, shared value and shared destiny,” Rivlin said at the end of the celebration.
Main Photo: Shira Haas speaks with Jonah, Henry and Ben Platt during a virtual Israel Independence Day celebration, April 29, 2020. (Screenshot via YouTube)