Independence Day (Israel)
Yom Ha'atzmaut 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.|
|Date||5 Iyar (Hebrew calendar)|
|2015 date||23 April|
|2016 date||12 May|
|2017 date||2 May|
|2018 date||19 April|
|Related to||Yom Hazikaron Nakba day|
Independence Day (Hebrew: יום העצמאות Yom Ha'atzmaut, lit. "Day of Independence") is the national day of Israel, commemorating the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948. It is celebrated either on the 5th of Iyar, according to the Hebrew calendar, or on one of the preceding or following days, depending on which day of the week this date falls on. Yom Hazikaron, the Israeli Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism Remembrance Day is followed by Independence Day.
Independence Day is founded on the declaration of the establishment of the State of Israel by the Jewish leadership headed by future Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion on 14 May 1948. The mood outside of Ben-Gurion's home just prior to the declaration was joyous:
"The Jews of Palestine ... were dancing because they were about to realize what was one of the most remarkable and inspiring achievements in human history: A people which had been exiled from its homeland two thousand years before, which had endured countless pogroms, expulsions, and persecutions, but which had refused to relinquish its identity—which had, on the contrary, substantially strengthened that identity; a people which only a few years before had been the victim of mankind’s largest single act of mass murder, killing a third of the world’s Jews, that people was returning home as sovereign citizens in their own independent state."
Independence was declared eight 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 United States de facto, the Soviet Union, and many other countries, but not by the surrounding Arab states, which marched with their troops into the area of the former British Mandate.
Independence Day eve
An official ceremony is held every year on Mount Herzl, Jerusalem on the evening of Independence Day. 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.
- 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.
In response to widespread public feeling, the Chief Rabbinate in Israel decided during 1950–51 that Independence Day should be given the status of a minor Jewish holiday on which Hallel be recited. Their decision that it be recited (without a blessing) gave rise to a bitter public dispute, with Agudath Israel rejecting the notion of imbuing the day with any religious significance whatsoever, and religious Zionists believing the blessing should be obligatory. The Rabbinate also ruled that they were "unable to sanction instrumental music and dances on this day which occurs during the sephirah period." The recitation of the blessing over Hallel was introduced in 1973 by Israeli Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren. The innovation was strongly denounced by his Sephardic counterpart, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and by Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, leader of Modern Orthodox Judaism in America.
The Religious Zionist movement created a liturgy for the holiday which sometimes includes the recitation of some psalms and the reading of the haftarah of Isaiah 10:32–12:6, which is also read on the last day of Pesach in the Diaspora, on the holiday morning. 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 regarding the recital of Hallel). In any case, the majority of his students recite Hallel without the blessings. A number of authorities have promoted the inclusion of a version of Al Hanisim (for the miracles...) in the Amidah prayer.
Most Haredim make no changes in their daily prayers. People affiliated to the Edah HaChareidis mourn the establishment of Israel on Independence Day, 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.
Independence Day is celebrated on the 5th day of Iyar (ה' באייר) in the Hebrew calendar, the anniversary of the day on which Israeli 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 Independence Day on a Shabbat.
Gregorian dates for Independence Day:
- 16 April 2013 (Tuesday, postponed one day to Iyar 6)
- 6 May 2014 (Tuesday, postponed one day to Iyar 6)
- 23 April 2015 (Thursday, advanced one day to Iyar 4)
- 12 May 2016 (Thursday, advanced one day to Iyar 4)
- 2 May 2017 (Tuesday, postponed one day to Iyar 6)
Palestinian 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.
- Oren, Michael B. "Ben-Gurion and the Return to Jewish Power." New Essays on Zionism. Ed. Hazony, et al. Jerusalem: Shalem Press, 2006. 406. PDF.
- "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
- Baruch Kimmerling (1 January 1989). The Israeli State and Society: Boundaries and Frontiers. SUNY Press. pp. 191–193. ISBN 978-0-88706-850-8.
- Sir Immanuel Jakobovits (1966). "Controversy: Letters To The Editor". Journal of a Rabbi. Living Books. p. 441.
- Alfred S. Cohen, ed. (1984). "Reciting Hallel on Yom Haatzmaut". Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society 7–10. Yeshiva Rabbi Jacob Joseph School. p. 17.
- Shalom Carmy (2008). "Teacher Not a Spokesman". In Zev Eleff. Mentor of Generations: Reflections on Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik. KTAV Publishing House, Inc. p. 246. ISBN 978-1-60280-011-3.
He strictly prohibited reciting a berakha [blessing] on the Hallel.
- Jewish Action 66. Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America. 2005. p. 93.
The Rav's famous outburst on Yom Ha'atzamaut 1978 when he called the ceremony for Yom Ha'atzamaut "acute halachic mental retardation" was a result of a deeply held antagonism to all changes in the siddur.
- Rabbi Moshe Meiselman Commitment
- This segment includes Rav David Bar Hayim of the Hardal camp who heads Machon Shilo Institute, (Machon Shilo Al HaNisim for Yom Ha'atzmaut and Yom Yerushalyim), and The Temple Institute, as well as Avi Shmidman and Ben-Tzion Spitz (Shmidman Al HaNissim).
- Mishpacha Magazine, "Zealots and Zionism", Moishe Guttman. 14 March 2007
- Lucas, Lucas. "Yom Ha-atzmaut: Laws & Customs". Jewish Law. The Rabbinical Assembly. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
- 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, eds. Surveillance and Control in Israel/Palestine: Population, Territory and Power (Illustrated ed.). Taylor & Francis. p. 17. ISBN 978-0-415-58861-4.
- "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.|
- Independence Day Knesset
- 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
- Adi Sherzer. Civil Religion, Israel Style: Independence Day Case Study, TLV1 Radio