Yom Ha'atzmaut Israel Independence Day

By Jackie Ross

Following on the heals of Yom Hazikaron, we have Yom Ha'atzmaut - Israel's Independence Day. Although Yom Hazikaron is an important, somber day, klal Yisrael doesn't wallow in her sadness. As soon as Yom Hazikaron ends, the celebration of the existence of Medinat Yisrael, the State of Israel begins!

It was in the late afternoon of May 14, 1948, that David Ben Gurion announced the birth of Israel, just hours before the country was about to go into Shabbat. The 5th of Iyar in the Jewish calendar, has ever since been a holiday in Israel, and for Jews all over the world (although in the diaspora, many Jews celebrate the following Sunday, as most of the world has Sundays off. In Israel the 5th is a national holiday).

While there are of course the obligatory bar-b-ques, parades and other internationally-recognized symbols of celebration, Israel also celebrates this day in a uniquely Jewish way. Firstly, many national-religious affiliated Jews recite the prayer of Hallel (some with or without the bracha before it), which is said on many holidays. There is also the International Bible Competition - which any fact or story from throughout the 24 books of the TaNaCh are thrown at eager young students, all vying for the first place prize of a full scholarship to Bar Ilan University.

If you were concerned that with the passing of Nissan the time to experience miracles was over until next year, you shouldn't fret! Yom Ha'atzmaut isn't the only holiday in Iyar celebrating something out of the normal - the 27th of Iyar is Yom Yerusalayim - or the Jerusalem Unification Day. It celebrates the reunification of the Holy City after Israel recaptured it from the Jordanians in the Six Day War. These are all pretty miraculous events in Jewish history. May we all witness continued amazing events on a personal and national level this month.

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