Yom Haatzmaut, Israel Independence Day is usually celebrated a few weeks after Passover. On 14th May 1948 the Jewish leaders, led by David Ben Gurion, made the Declaration of the State of Israel 8 hours before the British Mandate was to come to an end.
The declaration was recognized by the United Nations General Assembly and supported by many countries including the United States and the Soviet Union. The declaration was not accepted by any of the surrounding Arab countries, who immediately declared war on the fledgling new state.
The day preceding Yom Ha’atzmaut is Yom Ha’zicharon, Memorial Day for Israel’s fallen soldiers. The connection between the two days and the reason for having them together one after the other is that Israel owes its existence and its independence to all those soldiers that have sacrificed their lives for it. The sharp passage from the emotions of memorial day to the celebrations of Israel Independence day symbolizes the character of the Israeli people to move forward no matter what.
Celebrating Israel Independence Day
Israel celebrates independence day in many ways. The main official ceremony takes place on the eve of Yom Ha’atzmaut at Mount Herzl, Jerusalem. The flag is raised from half staff from memorial day to full staff. The evening starts with speeches from the president and other dignitaries. There is a parade by soldiers from the navy, army and air force followed by the lighting of candles by members of the public being recognized for their achievements in all spheres of life.
Public events take place all over the country. In the evening the municipalities of all the cities, towns and settlements provide open air & free celebrations. This is usually a busy night for Israel’s celebrities, singers & comedians who often perform at 2-3 venues in one evening. The evening ends with spectacular firework displays. Most central areas are closed to traffic allowing the celebrations and street parties to carry on into the early hours of the morning.
The next day is celebrated in different ways. Families in their thousands go out into the country and forests hiking and picnicing or to the beaches. All the army bases have open days for civilians to visit and the Israel air force has its annual flypast along the coast of Israel from north to south.
Jewish communities all around the world gather in community centers and synagogues to celebrate. It is their way express and strengthen their solidarity and love for Israel. If you are lucky enough to be in Israel at this time of the year then you will have an amazing experience and get a real feel of Israel & the Israeli people.
Happy Yom Ha’atzmaut!!!