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Yom Ha’atzmaut – Israel Independence Day

Yom Hazikaron – Memorial Day

Israeli Independence Day – Yom Ha’atzmaut always follows Israel’s official Memorial Day for IDF and security forces casualties and victims of terror – Yom Hazikaron. This is a dual holiday – as we say in Hebrew consisting of “Honey and Sting”. The transition from Memorial Day to Indepdence Day reminds people of the price paid for independence and of what was achieved with the soldiers’ sacrifice. Yom Hazikaron falls one week after the Holocaust Remembrance Day and two weeks after Pesach (Passover.)

The customs for Yom Hazikaron – Memorial Day include:

  • TV and radio programs are devoted to the subjects.
  • A national memorial ceremony is held at the Mt. Herzl Military Cemetery and the Western Wall (Kotel).
  • Public memorial ceremonies are held in all the IDF cemeteries.
  • All places of entertainment are closed.
  • Flags are flown at half mast.
  • A one minute siren is sounded at 8 p.m. (In the Hebrew calendar, a day begins at sunset.) and a two-minute siren again at 11 a.m the following morning. Traffic stops to honor the dead. Pedestrians stand quietly at attention.
  • Special prayers for the soldiers who died in the line of duty are recited in synagogues.

Yom Ha’atzmaut – Independence Day

The independence of the Jewish state actually began five months before its Declaration of Independence. The Israeli War of Independence began on November 19, 1947 with the vote at the United Nations to accept the Partition Plan to end the British Mandate on Palestine and found one Jewish state and one Arab state. From that date till the Israeli Declaration of Independence on the last day of the British Mandate in Palestine, May 15, 1948, the local Arabs began a bloody civil war against their Jewish neighbors. Immediately after all the British forces evacuated Palestine and the the State of Israel was founded on May 15, 1948, a coalition of Arab states including Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq invaded the one day old Jewish State of Israel making this a “state of war“.

So far, thank G-D,  Israel has celebrated 68 years of independence. The Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration is set every year according to the Jewish calendar on the fifth of Iyar (which was May 15th in 1948).

So, how do we celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut?

  • The national flag is raised from half staff to the top of the pole and displayed before all homes and on cars.
  • This is a national holiday at work and in schools.
  • The President of Israel delivers a speech of congratulations.
  • Reception of the President of Israel for honouring excellence in 120 IDF soldiers.
  • Israel Defense Forces soldiers parade with their flags.
  • Torch lighting ceremony symbolizing Israel’s achievements in all spheres of life.
  • Major cities provide nighttime festivities on the main streets with free public entertainment.
  • Special prayers are said in synagogues.
  • International Bible Contest in Jerusalem
  • Israel Prize ceremony in Jerusalem


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