Yom Haatzmaut is Israeli Independence Day, a day of great celebration held every year in late April or early May – on the day (in the Hebrew calendar) which, in 1948, Israel declared its independence. Across Israel, events and celebrations take place to mark Independence – both on a national scale and on a more local scale, with almost every city, town, and village, having some sort of celebration. In 2014, Yom Haatzmaut (Israeli Independence Day) falls from sundown on May 5, to sundown on May 6.
The Israeli Flag stands tall on Yom Haatzmaut. Image: Yehudaco, via Flickr
The major State Ceremony for Yom Haatzmaut takes place on the eve of Yom Haatzmaut at Mount Herzl, Israel’s National Ceremony in Jerusalem. This event marks the end of Yom Hazikaron (Israel’s memorial day, which falls immediately before), and the beginning of the celebration for Yom Haatzmaut. The ceremony involves performances, speeches, and a ceremonial lighting of twelve torches which symbolizes the Twelve tribes of Israel by twelve citizens who have made a great impact upon the country. At the same time, towns and cities across the country have parties and firework displays.
The following day, parades and events take place across Israel including military fly-pasts (see the schedule for the Independence Day Fly Over), parades, a famous International Bible Competition, and the ceremony for the Israel Prize which is Israel’s highest award and honor. The Israel Prize is given each year to about 10-15 people in the presence of the presence of the President, Prime Minister, the Knesset chairperson, and the Supreme Court president.
Yom Haatzmaut is a real family day, and Israelis flock to Israel’s National Parks, hiking trails, and beauty spots, for barbecues and picnics.
Yom Haatzmaut in Tel Aviv. Image: n0nick on Flickr
The main Tel Aviv Yom Haatzmaut event will be held in Rabin Square, starting at 21:00 on May 5. It will feature the military band, and film lips from throughout Israel’s history will be presented on giant screens whilst fireworks paint the sky.
In the plaza outside the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center, events will begin at 20:30 and feature the Tze’irei Tel Aviv dance troupe, following by activities for the whole family, fireworks displays and folk dancing.