What Does Yom Ha'atzmaut Mean to You?

Yom Ha'atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, is an annual festivity honoring the birth of the modern state of Israel in 1948 as declared by David Ben Gurion who would go on to become the nation’s first prime minister. 

On the Hebrew calendar, Yom Ha’atzmaut is observed in the fifth day of the month of Iyar. This video captures many sentiments on what Israel’s independence means to so many people. 

On a national level, the festivities often begin the night before. Like Independence Day in the United States, Yom Ha’atzmaut includes such traditions as outdoor musical concerts, picnics, hikes, barbecues, blue and white cookies, parties, and fireworks displays. It is a time often spent with family and friends, and on this day, nature reserves and museums often have suspended their admissions fees, rendering these family-friendly activities free of charge for a day. 

Israel’s independence is a time for families to reflect on their homeland and Jewish heritage; it is also a time to honor friends and family who have passed on. Philanthropic contributions to charities and hospitals often increase in this time, with the donations in honor of deceased loved ones. 

Many Jewish teens elect to participate in a nationwide, text-based, notoriously difficult Torah championship sponsored by the State of Israel and Ministry of Education on this day. 

On the actual evening of this special day, parades and speeches by state officials begin at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, and the day ends with a lighting of twelve torches, honoring the twelve tribes of Israel. 

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