Happy Birthday Israel! 64 Years Young!
Israel’s Independence Day is celebrated on the fifth day of the month of Iyar, which is the Hebrew date of the formal establishment of the State of Israel, when members of the “provisional government” read and signed a Declaration of Independence in Tel Aviv. The original date corresponded to May 14, 1948.
Yom Ha’atzmaut in Israel is always preceded by Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day for the fallen soldiers. The message of linking these two days is clear: Israelis owe their independence–the very existence of the state–to the soldiers who sacrificed their lives for it.
The official “switch” from Yom Hazikaron to Yom Ha’atzmaut takes place a few minutes after sundown, with a ceremony on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem in which the flag is raised from half staff (due to Memorial Day) to the top of the pole. The president of Israel delivers a speech of congratulations, and soldiers representing the army, navy, and air force parade with their flags. The evening parade is followed by a torch lighting (hadlakat masuot) ceremony, which marks the country’s achievements in all spheres of life.
Other than the official ceremonies, Israelis celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut in a variety of ways. In the cities, the nighttime festivities may be found on the main streets. Crowds will gather to watch public shows offered for free by the municipalities and the government. During the daytime thousands of Israeli families go out on hikes and picnics.
I, for one, have had a full weekend of Yom Ha’Atzmaut festivites and I wouldn’t have it any other way. As we celebrate 64 years, I can’t help but look forward to our next big milestone. 65! And rest assured, we have big plans for 65! Not only is the weather perfect this time of year, what better way than to spend your vacation celebrating Israel’s birthday. Stay tuned as big things will be coming next year!