IT MAY lie across the far side of the Mediterranean. But the State of Israel will be firmly in the hearts and minds of Bournemouth’s Jewish community over the next few days as the country celebrates its 70th anniversary.

Mayor Lawrence Williams will join Bournemouth Hebrew Congregation for an Independence Tea at the Synagogue, and other events will include a hot breakfast and a film called ‘The Prime Ministers’.

There will also be a dinner to commemorate the creation of Israel in 1948, when David Ben-Gurion, who became the country's first prime minister, proclaimed Israel's establishment and gained recognition from U.S. President Harry S. Truman on the same day.

Councillor Anne Filer, a former town mayor herself, said Jewish people in Bournemouth were ‘delighted’ to be celebrating Israel’s anniversary. “Most Jewish people don’t live in Israel,” she said. “I was born here, like my parents and grandparents before, so I am British, my home is in England and my loyalties are here but clearly, as Jewish people, Israel is very important to us.”

The reason for this, she said, was because, following the Holocaust, in which more than six million Jewish people were murdered by the Nazi regime, Israel became a homeland for Jews even though, for most, it is not their home.

“My husband, Michael, and I were more involved when Israel was young, we’d go there on holiday and things were very basic although it’s a very modern country now,” she said.

She and her husband are also involved with the civic trips from Bournemouth to its twin town of Netanya on the Israeli coast. Over the years many Bournemouth families have visited Israel and have relatives living there

Mrs Filer said that although the anniversary would be a ‘quiet and reflective’ celebration it would be welcomed. “The creation of Israel was something my grandparents could only have dreamed of,” she said.