|This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in the Hebrew Wikipedia. (October 2012)|
Hebrew: יום העצמאות
|Celebrations||Displaying the flag of Israel and other national symbols, family meetings, fireworks, barbecues, picnics, concerts|
|Observances||Mount Herzl ceremony, Ceremonial lighting of the twelve torches, International Bible Contest, Israel Prize ceremony.|
|2012 date||26 April|
|2013 date||16 April|
|2014 date||05 May|
|Related to||Yom Hazikaron, al-Nakba|
Yom Ha'atzmaut (Hebrew: יום העצמאות Yōm hā-ʿAṣmāʾūṯ lit. "Independence Day") is the national day of Israel, commemorating the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948. It is celebrated on 5th of Iyar according to the Hebrew calendar. Yom Ha'atzmaut is preceded by Yom Hazikaron, the Israeli Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism Remembrance Day.
Yom Ha'atzmaut centres around the declaration of the establishment of the State of Israel by The Jewish Leadership led by future Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, on 14 May 1948. This was declared eight (8) hours before the end of the British Mandate of Palestine, which was due to finish on 15 May 1948.
The operative paragraph of the Declaration of the Establishment of State of Israel of 14 May 1948 expresses the declaration to be by virtue of our natural and historic right and on the strength of the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly. The operative paragraph concludes with the words of Ben-Gurion, where he thereby declares the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz Israel, to be known as the State of Israel.
The new state was quickly recognised by the Soviet Union, the United States de facto, and many other countries, but not by the surrounding Arab states, which marched with their troops into the area of the former British Mandate.
Yom Ha'atzmaut observances
Yom Ha'atzmaut eve
An official ceremony is held every year on Mount Herzl, Jerusalem on the evening of Yom Ha'atzmaut. The ceremony includes a speech by the speaker of the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament), artistic performances, a Flag of Israel, forming elaborate structures (such as a Menorah, Magen David) and the ceremonial lighting of twelve torches, one for each of the Tribes of Israel. Every year a dozen Israeli citizens, who made a significant social contribution in a selected area, are invited to light the torches. Many cities hold outdoor performances in cities' squares featuring leading Israeli singers and fireworks displays. Streets around the squares are closed to cars, allowing people to sing and dance in the streets.
Yom Ha'atzmaut day
- Reception of the President of Israel for honouring excellence in 120 IDF soldiers. The event takes place in the President's official residence in Jerusalem.
- International Bible Contest in Jerusalem
- Israel Prize ceremony in Jerusalem
- Israel Defense Forces opens some of its bases to the public.
- Israel Defense Forces parade (1948–1973)
- Hebrew Song Contest (1960–1980)
Israeli families, regardless of religious observance or affiliation, celebrate with picnics and barbecues (known in Israeli slang as a mangal – from the Arabic word منقل meaning "stove"). Balconies are decorated with Israeli flags, and small flags are attached to car windows. Some leave the flags hoisted until after Yom Yerushalayim. Israeli Television channels air the official events live, and classic cult Israeli movies and skits are shown.
The Chief Rabbinate has declared Yom Ha'atzmaut a Jewish holiday on which Hallel, with blessings, is recited, along with the pesukei dezimrah of Holidays and Sabbaths. The Religious Zionist movement created a liturgy for the holiday which sometimes includes the recitation of some psalms and the reading of a portion of the Prophets (Haftarah) on the holiday morning. Segments of the Religious Zionist camp has promoted the inclusion of a version of Al Hanisim (For the Miracles). This segment includes Rav David Bar Hayim of the Hardal camp who heads Machon Shilo Institute and The Temple Institute, as well as Avi Shmidman and Ben-Tzion Spitz.
Other changes to the daily prayers include reciting Hallel, saying the expanded Pesukei D'Zimrah of Shabbat (the same practice that is observed almost universally on Hoshanah Rabbah), and/or blowing the Shofar. Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik questioned the Halachic imperative in canonising these changes (it is not clear what his personal practice was – some of his students claim that he recited Hallel and some testify that he remained silent while the congregation recited Hallel). In any case, the majority of his students recite Hallel without the blessings.
The Conservative Movement instituted the reading of a Torah portion for the day, Deuteronomy 7:12–8:18, as well as the inclusion of a version of Al Hanisim (for the Miracles...), similar to those recited on Hanukkah and Purim. Some Conservative synagogues also read the haftarah of Isaiah 10:32–12:6, which is also read on the last day of Pesach in the Diaspora.
The Reform Movement suggests the inclusion of Ya'aleh V'yavo, an addition to the Amidah that is also included on Rosh Chodesh (the New Month), Shalosh Regalim (the Pilgrimage Festivals), Rosh Hashanah, and Yom Kippur.
Some Hasidim and Haredim have recited Hallel, such as the previous Bohusher Rebbe. Most Haredim make no changes in their daily prayers. Some do mark the day with a barbecue, but most do not. Members of the Satmar, Toldos Aaron, Toldos Avraham Yitzchak, Neturei Karta sects do not celebrate Yom Ha'atzmaut, claiming that the establishment of a Jewish state before the coming of the Messiah is a sin and heresy. Some even fast on this day and recite prayers for fast days.
Yom Ha'atzmaut is celebrated on the 5th day of Iyar (ה' באייר) in the Hebrew calendar, the anniversary of the day in which Israel independence was proclaimed, when David Ben-Gurion publicly read the Israeli Declaration of Independence. The corresponding Gregorian date was 14 May 1948.
If the 5th of Iyar falls on a Friday or Saturday, the celebrations are moved up to the preceding Thursday. This rule has been effective since 1951. If the 5th of Iyar is on a Monday, the festival is postponed to Tuesday. This rule has been effective since 2004, in order to avoid potential violation of Sabbath laws by preparing for Yom Hazikaron or Yom Ha'atzmaut on a Shabbat.
Gregorian dates for Yom Ha'atzmaut:
- 10 May 2011 (Tuesday, postponed one day to Iyar 6)
- 26 April 2012 (Thursday, advanced one day to Iyar 4)
- 16 April 2013 (Tuesday, postponed one day to Iyar 6)
- 6 May 2014 (Tuesday, postponed one day to Iyar 6)
Arab Reactions and The Nakba
On 23 March 2011, the Knesset approved, by a vote of 37 to 25, a change to the budget, giving the Israeli Finance Minister the discretion to reduce government funding to any non-governmental organization (NGO) that organizes Nakba commemoration events.
After months of legislative limbo due to numerous appeals filed by multiple organizations (e.g. Adalah, and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, as well as several Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel) the Supreme Court of Israel rejected the appeals, and upheld the Nakba Law, on January 5, 2012. President Dorit Beinisch and Justices Eliezer Rivlin and Miriam Naor concluded: "The declarative level of the law does indeed raise difficult and complex questions. However, from the outset, the constitutionality of the law depends largely upon the interpretation given to the law's directives." 
In specific, the law enables the state to fine local communities and other state-funded groups for holding events that mark what the Arab community calls the Nakba. Fines, deducted from a group's operating budget, could equal up to three times the event's sponsorship cost; repeat violations would double the fines.
- "Israel Ministry of foreign Affairs: Declaration of Establishment of State of Israel: 14 May 1948". Mfa.gov.il. Retrieved 26 April 2012.
- United states de facto Regnition of State of Israel: 14 May 1948: Retrieved 9 April 2012
- Machon Shilo Al HaNisim for Yom Ha'atzmaut and Yom Yerushalyim.
- Shmidman Al HaNissim
- Rabbi Moshe Meiselman Commitment
- Lucas, Lucas. "Yom Ha-atzmaut: Laws & Customs". Jewish Law. The Rabbinical Assembly. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
- Mishpacha Magazine, "Zealots and Zionism", Moishe Guttman. 14 March 2007
- Maariv article (in Hebrew).
- 'How does an Arab-Israeli school confront independence day?' EETTA PRINCE-GIBSON, 26 APRIL 2012
- 'The Nakba Hoax in Retrospect' Isi Leibler, May 25th, 2012
- Knesset Approves Nakba Law, by Elad Benari, 23 March 2011
- Elia Zureik (2011). Elia Zureik, David Lyon, Yasmeen Abu-Laban, ed. Surveillance and Control in Israel/Palestine: Population, Territory and Power (Illustrated ed.). Taylor & Francis. p. 17. ISBN 0-415-58861-8.
- "MK Zahalka: Racist laws target Arab sector" by Roni Sofer, 22 March 2011
- "Israel’s Supreme Court rejects Nakba Law suit " by The Jewish Telegraphic Agency, January 5th, 2012
- "Erasing the Nakba" by Neve Gordon, Last Modified: 17 May 2012 06:46
- "Israel’s Supreme Court rejects Nakba Law suit " by The Global News Service of the Jewish People, January 5th, 2012
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Yom Ha'atzmaut.|
- Israeli Knesset page on Yom Ha'aztmaut
- Study Sheet for Yom HaAtzmaut: the Passover Hagada and Israel's Declaration of Independence
- Conservative Movement's Al HaNisim for Yom Haatzmaut
- Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, Peninei Halachah - Zmanim, Yom HaAtzmaut