January 16, 2019

Israel Independence Fest Faces Unexpected Expenses

Signs posted at the entrance to the 62nd Israel Independence Day Festival at Woodley Park on April 25 apologized for a last-minute increase of entrance fees — from $5 per person to $8. Even so, the increase was not enough to cover the cost of an unexpected $43,000 bill from the City of Los Angeles for police, fire and other city services — expenses provided at no cost to the festival for the past 19 years. The city’s current budget crisis forced a policy change, and organizers of the annual festival, which this year drew approximately 20,000 attendees, got the bill three weeks before the event.

“At first, the city told us that we had to pay the bill before the festival,” said Yoram Gutman, executive director of the festival. “But with the help of some very supportive city officials, we were able to get an extension to May 5. We managed to pay the bill — we really had no choice — but at the expense of our vendors.”

The festival, according to Gutman, would have had a balanced budget, covering all of its expenses with the anticipated income from booth rentals and entrance fees, before the city bill. The nonprofit organization is now facing a shortage of funds needed to pay vendors who provided services such as fencing, security and carnival rides.

Festival organizers are now turning to the community to help raise funds to cover these costs. “We hope that people come forward to support an important community event that has been uniting Jews every year for almost 20 years,” Gutman said. “We need everyone’s help right now if we’re going to continue running this festival.”

Tax-deductible donations can be sent to: Israel Independence Day Festival, 7324 Reseda Blvd., Suite 257, Reseda, CA 91335.