Israel’s Independence Day is celebrated on the fifth day of the month of Iyar, which falls on May 12 this year.
In the State of Israel, Yom Ha'atzmaut is a formal holiday, very similar to July 4 in the U.S., almost everyone has the day off. For Israelis in the homeland, the festivities begin the evening before, when they take to streets across the country to attend outdoor concerts, parties and barbecues, as well to watch fireworks displays. Friends and families gather together the next day, usually outside or at nature reserves, museums and other attractions, which remain open to the public free of charge. Also on Yom Ha’atzmaut, teens compete in the country’s Torah championship, and the Israel Prize, the country’s highest honor, is awarded in a formal ceremony in Jerusalem to individuals who excel in their chosen field.
On the evening of the holiday, celebrants and officials gather at Mount Herzl, Jerusalem. A ceremony with speeches and a parade of soldiers concludes with the lighting of twelve torches, representing the 12 Tribes of Israel.
Yom Ha'atzmaut can be celebrated anywhere in the world! To celebrate Yom Ha'atzmaut, consider:
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.
At the J, we wish Israel a Happy Birthday, and thank those soldiers who fight for Israel's freedom!