Monday, April 19, 2010

Yom HaAtzmaut - Happy 62nd Birthday Israel!

In the Israeli calendar, Memorial Day (or Yom HaZikaron) is followed by the celebration of Independence Day (or Yom Ha’atzmaut)—as a way to begin the celebration of freedom with a day-long solemn remembrance of the cost of that freedom. In the Jewish calendar, these days traditionally fall on the 4th and 5th days of lyar, the eighth month of the year.

Much like the U.S. moved around holidays to better accomodate celebrations for Americans, the Israelis also revised their holiday schedule. So, Yom Ha’atzmaut must appear mid-week close to the 5th of lyar. This year, the kickoff for Yom Ha’atzmaut is postponed until sundown Monday, April 19.

Israel gained its independence in 1948, and an elaborate ceremony occurs each year on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem. (The Jewish Virtual Library explains the link between Yom Ha’atzmaut and Yom Hazikaron.) During this ceremony, members of the Israeli Parliament speak, dramatic presentations celebrate the nation’s history and soldiers march with the flag of Israel while creating formations like a Menorah. Traditionally, 12 torches are lit to represent the 12 tribes of Israel. (Wikipedia has more on the day’s specific observances.)

During the day, many Jewish families celebrate similarly to the American Independence Day with picnics, family gatherings and a generally festive air. (My Jewish Learning details some of the customs associated with Yom Ha’atzmaut.) In many areas, Israeli folk dances are organized in the streets at night.

Thanks to Read The Spirit for the narrative.


  1. I have a 25th anniversary commemorative medal, celebrating the founding of the State of Israel, which I got when I was there in 1973.

  2. when I was there in 1973.

    Time to go back Lewy...

  3. Fay, I was just a little too young to appreciate everything - but I did appreciate a great deal. (I was ten).

    I have an aspiration to go with my college room-mate and his two sons when they are a little older. We'll see.

  4. 62, and still a Babe. A joyous and peaceful birthday, Israel.

  5. lewy, that must be a prized keepsake!

    G-d bless Israel and protect her (and particularly our friend annie and her family).

    I feel frightened that that world stands by while the maniacs running Iran edge closer to nuclear capability with each passing hour.

  6. Thanks for this beautiful post Fay, and for florrie's sentiments, and the others too. We spent Independence Day with my daughter; my parents and all my other kids came too, plus my 2 nieces and their kids. Quiet it was not :-).

    Hubby was not there.He was still stranded in Europe. He is now finally on the final leg of his journey home, having travelled by train from London to Paris to Marseilles. Only 5 days late... But he missed the festival. He'll be landing at 2 a.m. (about 3 hours time).