Israel 75: A Celebration in the Sky – An Interview with Daniel Goldwin

juf israel 75 chitribe

Israel 75: The Origin Story | June 13, 2023

In a groundbreaking move to unite the Chicago Jewish community, the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Chicago (JUF) is organizing a unique drone show, Israel 75: A Celebration in the Sky. Daniel Goldwin, Executive Director of Public Affairs at the JUF, shared the vision of reviving Israel Solidarity Day in a new, impactful way. “As we emerge from COVID, JUF has been looking for new and exciting ways to reconnect people to Israel.”

Chicago’s Jewish community has never been shy about its support and love of Israel, and we were looking for a new way to be big, loud, and proud about Israel.

Dan Goldwin, Executive Director of Public Affairs at the JUF

Goldwin proposed an idea to bring back Israel Solidarity Day in an innovative way. The goal was to create an event that was “big, loud, and proud” that could be shared and experienced no matter where you are. The idea of a drone show emerged as a perfect solution. Collaborating with a Detroit-based company, the drone show, featuring 500 drones flying in a series of formations, will feature stunning visuals, including a massive drone-created Israeli flag and…(Dan then swore me to secrecy – “no spoilers here!”). This event, celebrating Israel’s 75th anniversary, showcases the community’s resilience and pride. This drone show, entirely designed to celebrate Israel’s 75th anniversary, is a testament to the community’s resilience and adaptability, and their unwavering pride in Israel. Read more and get involved this June 13!

Meet Daniel Goldwin, Executive Director, Public Affairs, Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Chicago

In an exclusive interview with Daniel Goldwin of the JUF, we learned all the behind the scenes mechanics about the upcoming event and the history of Pro-Israel celebrations in Chicago. Learn more about why this event that will be lighting up the sky is a game changer!

The Walk for Israel, a once-popular event, had seen a decline in interest over the years. “We began to watch the numbers drop and we knew a change was needed,” Goldwin said. A few years ago the JCC successfully took the lead in celebrating Yom HaAtzmaut with a strong focus on young families, while JUF continued its annual flag raising at Daley Plaza on Yom HaAtzmaut. However, Goldwin and his team felt a strong desire to reignite the city-wide excitement that once surrounded the Walk for Israel, especially on Israel’s 75th anniversary.

The idea for the drone show was born out of this desire. “A drone show along Chicago’s iconic lakeshore that is being simultaneously live streamed is certainly big, loud and proud, and is open to all those who want to attend in person or want to stream it at home or elsewhere.” 

We need a big, loud, and proud display of solidarity with Israel in this city.

Dan Goldwin, Executive Director of Public Affairs at the JUF

Bashert Drones from Detroit

The drones, sourced from a company in suburban Detroit called 

Firefly Drone Shows

, will create various formations over approximately 15 minutes celebrating Israel, including a giant Israeli flag and a nod to Pride Month.

The drone show is scheduled for June 13th (6.13.23) a date that aligns with the 613 mitzvot (commandments) in Jewish law. Interestingly, the Chicago Park District, from whom the permit for the event was obtained, has 613 parks. So this really is destiny, or bashert.

Dan Goldwin, Executive Director of Public Affairs at the JUF

The drone show is scheduled for June 13 (6.13), a that aligns with the 613 mitzvot (commandments) in Jewish law. Interestingly, the Chicago Park District, from whom the permit for the event was obtained, has 613 parks. “This is destiny, bashert,” Goldwin said, using the Yiddish word for “meant to be.”

Livestream and Security

The event will be livestreamed internationally, allowing people from all over the world to join in the celebration. Locally, the best place to watch the show in person will be along North Avenue Beach or the eastern edge of Lincoln Park (along the South Lagoon) between North Avenue and Fullerton Avenue. 

Despite the excitement, Goldwin and his team are also mindful of potential anti-Israel protests and general security concerns. They are taking all necessary precautions, with JUF’s security department working hand-in-glove with the Chicago Police Department. Goldwin emphasized the organization and determination behind the scenes to ensure the event goes smoothly. This livestream is a great alternative for those who cannot make it in person, and still want to be involved. For all those who are joining a watch party in person, camping out at the beach between Fullerton and North Avenue Beach, there will be increased security to ensure safety.

The drone show is not just about the spectacle; it’s about bringing the community together. Goldwin stressed that the event is not about “butts in seats,” but about creating a shared experience – in person and virtually. The JUF is encouraging synagogues, communal groups and Israel-related organizations to join in the celebration, either by watching the show in person or hosting watch parties.

The Drone Show: Lights, Music, and More

The event will feature music by Rick Recht and Anshe Emet’s Cantor Rachel Brook’s  beautiful recorded rendition of Hatikvah, the national anthem of Israel. The show will close with a famous quote from Theodor Herzl, a quote that sums up not just the creation of Israel, but all the work JUF put into making this celebration possible – “If you will it, it is no dream.”

Goldwin ended the interview by emphasizing that the drone show is just one of many ways that JUF is working to support and unite the Jewish community in Chicago and beyond, “as it says on our website, ‘JUF amplifies our collective strength to make the world a better place – for everyone.’” 

Register Now and Find a Watch Party

For more information about the event, visit the ChiTribe event page. Pre-registration will provide a link to the JUF’s YouTube channel where the event will be livestreamed.  If you plan to watch it in-person, the link will enable you to stream the accompanying music. In case of a driving rainstorm, the event will be postponed to June 14.

Israel 75: A Celebration in the Sky promises to be a unique and memorable event, marking a new era in Chicago’s celebration of Israel. As Goldwin said, it’s about being “big, loud, and proud” about Israel. With this drone show, the JUF is not only supporting American businesses but also expressing their unwavering support for Israel, creating a spectacle that will be remembered for years to come.

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Rebecca Schwab

Rebecca Schwab

Rebecca creates best practices and executes marketing campaigns for Jewish organizations who are trying to reach the next generation of the Jewish community - specifically Millennials and Gen Z - through digital marketing, social media, online and in-person events.