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Yom Ha’atzma’ut: Israeli Independence Day

03/24/2023 05:22:11 PM


By Laurel Hefty

Held on the fifth day of Iyar in the Hebrew calendar (April 26, 2023), Yom Ha’atzmaut commemorates Israel’s independence in 1948. According to Jewish Virtual Library, “Israeli Independence Day is always immediately preceded by Yom Hazikaron—Memorial Day for the Fallen Israeli 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.” 

As Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion said, quoting Israel’s Declaration of Independence, "This is the natural right of the Jewish people to be masters of their own fate, like all other nations, in their own sovereign State."

As described at

Independence Day is a holiday in Israel, and like many Jewish observances, this "day" starts the evening beforehand. On this evening, the speaker of the Israeli Parliament, or Knesset, gives a speech and there is a dramatic televised presentation. Groups of soldiers carry Israeli flags and form shapes that represent symbols of Judaism, including a … menorah and a … Star of David. In addition, 12 beacons are lit by people who made a special contribution to Israeli society in a particular field. Each of the beacons represents one of the 12 tribes of Israel.

Many people hold parties or sing and dance in the streets to celebrate and fireworks are set off. ... It is also common to display the Israeli flag prominently on homes and cars. Many religious people may read the Torah or say the Hallel, which are six Psalms, or blow the shofar. … 

Yom Ha'atzmaut is also celebrated by [Jews living in the Diaspora]. ...

[Yom Ha’atzmaut] is not celebrated by everyone. … Many Arabs feel that the day, which they call al-Nakba, the disaster, represents a loss of national identity.

June 6, 2023 17 Sivan 5783