Independence Day - Yom Haatzmaut in Hebrew - is one of the year's biggest holidays. It is a day of pride in and reflection on the accomplishments of the Jewish state. It has also become a global event for Jewish communities around the world.
Israel's 57th Independence Day began Wednesday evening, May 11, and ran through sundown on Thursday, May 12, but the parties and concerts around the world in support of Israel and in commemoration of the day are continuing through June.
Yom Haatzmaut this year in Israel was a day of celebration for virtually all. The country's parks and beaches were chock full of revelers, partaking in the national sport of barbecue. The Israeli way is called "mangal," and involves the use of a small portable grill fired by charcoal fanned endlessly with anything people can get their hands on: a scrap of cardboard, a plastic paddle or, in some cases, electric hair blowers.
There was hardly a square centimeter of grass in the country that was not covered by some family having a picnic. The Parks Authority reported record crowds throughout the country; beaches and campgrounds were packed, and roads were full of travelers.
Israel-related events around the world
Israeli Independence Day events have taken hold in the United States, as well as in other countries.
On May 3, students at University of Illinois-Champaign-Urbana, celebrated Israel independence day with a barbecue and party. Read an account of that event contributed by a university student here.
There are still some events being held in the next few weeks in honor of Israeli Independence Day:
- June 5: Israel in the Gardens, San Francisco. Concert featuring Israeli rock group Machina and festival. Estimaed crowd: 12,000-15,000.
June 5: Salute to Israel Parade, New York City. Annual parade featuring floats, schools, bands. Organizers predict 750,000 to 1 million attendees, depending on the weather.
Other recent events:
May 16: Yom Haatzmaut Celebration, Sao Paolo, Brazil, with the presence of Brazilian government authorities, the Israeli Ambassador to Brazil Tzipora Rimon and former Israeli Ambassador to Finland, Ali Yahya, an Israeli Arab.
May 16: Yom Haatzmaut Party, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Party and IDF choir performance.
May 16: Hillel at the College of Staten Island (CSI) Israel Extravaganza, Staten Island, NY. Israeli foods, music and live entertainment.
May 16: Yom Haatzmaut Party, Riga, Latvia.
May 15: Israel in Our Hearts, Philadelphia. “Walk for Israel,” and festival, where main event was "Guinness Book of World Records" attempt for the largest hora dance, with 2,000-3,000 expected to participate. (Editor's note: Any report or photos of that? Send them to us)
May 15: Concert, celebration, Hopkins, Minnesota. Twin Cities Jewish community concert by Israeli singer Shuly Natan.
May 15: Yom Haatzmaut torch lighting, Pyatigorsk, Russia.
May 13: Daylong festival, Newark, Delaware. Blue Hens for Israel, University of Delaware Israel advocacy student group sponsoring festival with felafel, music, fun. Affiliated with Kristol Center for Jewish Life at University of Delaware, Hillel Foundation.
- May 12: Celebrate Israel Independence Day, UCLA, Los Angeles. At lunch time in Bruin Plaza, with food, dancing, fun, and Israeli vendors. Nightime party at Hillel building, with Israeli DJ, food, t-shirts, jewelry, hookas, soldiers and more.
- May 12: Peace in the Making: Reflections of Israel at 57, Baltimore. Featured speakers including Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, and Aaron David Miller, Seeds of Peace.
- May 12: Community celebration, La Plata City, Buenos Aires Province, Argentina. Pupils of community's two Jewish schools and local political authorities.
- May 12: Celebrate Israel’s 57th year of Independence,
San Francisco. Hillel of San Francisco State University.
May 12: Israel Fair, Cincinnati, Ohio. Hillel Cincinnati, University of Cincinnati. Henna tattoos, "Masada" rock climb, Hebrew name bracelets, Israeli food.
May 12: Long Beach Hillel's Happy Birthday Israel Party, Long Beach, CA. Lunchtime concert, ice cream, cake and prizes.
May 11: UCLA Hillel, Los Angeles. Four Israeli soldiers talked about their experiences in Israel and service in the IDF.
- May 11: HAFTR's Yom Haatzmaut Celebration , Lawrence, NY. Featured basketball star Tamir Goodman, Rabbi Yotav Eliach, singing, food and celebrations.
- May 11: Yom Haatzmaut party and celebration,
Kensington, NSW, Australia. Australasian Union of Jewish Students, Network and Hillel of Shalom College,
party and celebration that served as fundraiser for Kids for Kids,
Israeli charity for child terror victims.
- May 11: BBQ Party, Toronto. Hillel Toronto party with Israeli movies, drum circles, Israeli music and more.
- May 11: Dor Chadash annual event, Crobar club, New York City. Speakers included New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
- May 11: "The Miracle of Operation Solomon," 92nd Street Y, New York City. Prof. Stephen Spector and Riki Mullu spoke on Operation Solomon, the Israeli airlift of the Ethiopian Jews in May 1991.
- May 11: Yom Haatzmaut and Israel Solidarity Day,
Budapest, Hungary. Israeli rap group "HaDag Nahash" performed.
(Information on some of these events was supplied by PlanitJewish.com, a website providing tools for Jewish communities to improve their services and their connections to each other.)
Other U.S. events, as compiled by Planit Jewish:
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- Cincinnati, Ohio
- San Francisco Bay Area
- Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota
- Editor's note: We invite organizations in the U.S., Canada, U.K., and worldwide to send (firstname.lastname@example.org
) details and links to their events. We'll post them as we get them. Also, take pictures of your events and send
them to us afterward. We'll publish the best pictures in the days following the holiday.