On the 5th of the Hebrew month of Iyar (this year celebrated on April 19th and 20th), 62 Years ago, David Ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister of Israel Declared Israeli Independence as a State (before being attacked from all sides shortly thereafter).
Ben Gurion, 1951 Source: http://www.jewishmag.com
With the re-raising of the flag over the military cemetery at Har Hertzl Yom Hazikaron comes to a close the country breaks into the biggest party of the year.
For weeks people have been getting ready. Flags hang from every street light and bunting is strung up and down streets wherever it will reach. Balconies and windows become makeshift flag poles, and even cars and buses have flags hanging off the side and flying off the roofs. To my mind, never does the city look so pretty as going into Yom Ha'atzmaut.
The night begins with parades by torchlight to large assemblies with music, glow-y things and cotton candy (seems that in order to qualify in this country as a family event there must be at least 3 cotton candy machines being run by 10 year olds). There are giant inflatable climbing things to play on and speeches to ignore. No matter where you are the night ends with fireworks.
Yom Ha'atzmaut, Israeli Independence day, is the only statutory holiday on the calendar- this means that EVERYBODY and their families are out and taking part in the “rituals”. BBQ-ing, hiking, playing in parks and relaxing with friends are the order of the day. No self- respecting Israeli would be caught even considering not having a BBQ on Yom Ha'atzmaut. The truth is, from Pessach on stores stock “mangal”- disposable grills easy to shove in a back pack and take anywhere. Our first year here one sabra (Israeli born Israeli) made sure to take us under their wing to make sure we knew we HAD to BBQ on a tiyul (trip) on Yom Ha'atzmaut “not just bringing a meat sandwich”.
Yom Ha'atzmaut is the day to celebrate the Jewish State and being able to live here safely, securely and surrounded by friends, family and the wonder of God's creation.
Happy 62nd Birthday, Israel!
By Rachel Swirsky, http://www.etsy.com/shop/PhonyArt