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Independence Day at Wembley

Last updated: 2004-02-24

Israeli flag

Israeli flag

The Zionist Federation is to return to the Wembley Conference Centre for this year's Yom Ha'atzmaut celebrations following the Israel government's decision to change the date of Independence Day.

Originally, the ZF had booked the Royal Albert Hall but when the date of Independence Day was switched from Sunday April 25 to the following Monday, that venue became unavailable.

"It's a tried and trusted venue and has always been popular not only with the London Jewish community but with those from other parts of the UK," said ZF chairman Estelle Gilson. "We are happy to be going back there again.

"The main theatre can hold 4,000 people and we fully expect to fill it for our show, which is always the highlight of the day."

In a departure from previous years, the ZF will showcase British as well as Israeli stars with Maureen Lipman and Ruby Wax booked to appear on the same bill as Israeli singers, musicians and dancers.

Israel's Independence Day falls on Sunday April 25 this year and is preceded by Yom Hazikaron - the day when Israel mourns its fallen soldiers.

But the Israeli cabinet decided to postpone both events by one day following pleas from bereaved parents who said they would be unable to attend memorial events beginning immediately after Shabbat.

Alan Aziz, executive director of the ZF, said: "We had to move very quickly to find a new venue and I think we have come up with an excellent solution.

"It is a tribute to our staff here in the UK and a number of Israeli agencies that we have managed to turn things round.

"We were determined that the show would go on and now, together with our partners, the Jewish Agency, JNF and the UJIA, are looking forward to another highly successful show and once more co-ordinating a big, late night event for the younger element of the community."