Israel concluded its Memorial Day events and turned to celebrating its 65th anniversary on Monday evening. Celebrations kicked off with the traditional lighting of the torches ceremony in Mount Herzl.
This year's ceremony paid special tribute to national heritage. Among the 12 chosen to light torches this year are an Air Force pilot, a literature lecturer and two members of youth movements.
Israelis across the country celebrated Independence Day eve in various public events.
- Israel's population crosses 8 million mark
- Peres: Peace to prevail by Israel's 70th birthday
- Op-ed: Still dreaming of peace
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein spoke at the ceremony and called for national unity.
"I wasn't born on this land, and did not know its landscapes as a child," he said. "As a boy I never dreamed the time would come when I would stand here, as the representative of Israel's Knesset.
Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
"I never dreamed, not because I did not dare or because I was scared. As a boy I hardly knew the State of Israel and never dreamed of being part of it. And so, I did not think it possible to dream a dream so distant, so deep, so different."
Edelstein further added, "We must continue to argue but when we argue about equal share of the burden, or about the budget, we must never aim to crush the opponent," he said.
Education Minister Shai Piron (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
"We must strive for a society with opponents. A society where a haredi Jew can fully realize the way of life which he believes while taking responsibility for the state's security and future as his secular brother does."
Fireworks at Tel Aviv's Rabin Square (Photo: Yaron Brener)
Knesset building in Jerusalem (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Meet the torch lighters
Col. (ret.) Dani Shapira - Served in the Sherut Avir, the forerunner of the Israeli Air Force, prior to the foundation of the State of Israel, and fought in several wars as a pilot. He has 57 years worth of flight experience in the capacities of a test pilot and transport pilot. Shapira passes the traditions of Israel, the IDF and the IAF on to the younger generation at the IAF aviation academy and various aviation bases.
Muki Zur - Scholar of the Jewish settlement in Israel and of the kibbutz movement. His many monographs are dedicated to issues such as Practical Zionism and to various key figures of the kibbutz movement. Zur is an educator as well as writer and editor, and teaches at the secular yeshiva Bina and in a military school of the same name.
Kids celebrate in Haifa (Photo: Avishag Shaar-Yeshuv)
Celebrations in Hadera (Photo: George Ginsburg)
David Bloomberg – Top banker and chairman of the board of directors of the National Library in Jerusalem, an institution dedicated to the collection and preservation of the treasures of Jewish Israeli culture. The library is currently undergoing a major overhaul that should see it emerge as a major destination for students of Judaism the world over.
Prof. Tamar Ross - Renowned scholar of Jewish thought. Her work centers on the Hasidic Movement, the Misnagdim, and the philosophy of Rabbi Kook. She has proposed an original interpretation of the issue of gender equality in Jewish theology.
Prof. Meir Buzaglo - Hebrew University lecturer whose research combines mathematics with philosophy. He was instrumental in the revival of popular interest in Jewish liturgical poetry.
Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg
Dov Tzur Mayor of Rishon Lezion, and Iris Halperin, director of the Haviv school, are active in the battle for the preservation of historical buildings erected by the first Jewish settlers in the city more than 120 years ago. Tzur is the son of a holocaust survivor whose entire family perished in the death camps.
Bilha Ben Eliyahu – Contemporary Hebrew literature lecturer. Known for her unique interpretation of Hebrew literature drawing from history, the Bible and rabbinic literature.
Rabin Square (Photo: Yaron Brener)
Alean Al-Krenawi - President of the Achva Academic College. The first Bedouin to be appointed head of an academic institute in Israel.
Dafna Shimshon – Daughter of Indian immigrants and leaders of the Bene Israel community. Her father is credited with achieving recognition of the community's Jewish status. In her biography of her father, Shimshon told the story of the community's aliyah to Israel.
Minister Naftali Bennett at ceremony (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
Rino Zror – veteran journalist whose work is dedicated to Israelis in the margins of society.
Chen Hedvati – member of the Society for the Preservation of Israel's Heritage Sites working in the Sharon District. One of the founders of the Ein Shemer Museum.
Agata Parcik and Eliana Elbaz represent Israeli youth. Agata, 18, is a counselor at the Hashomer Hatzair Zionist Youth Movement which marks 100 years to its establishment. A resident of Ashdod, Parcik made aliyah with her family from the Ukraine. Eliana is a counselor at the Betar Revitionist Zionist Movement, marking 90 years to its establishment. Three years ago she lost her father, a member of the security forces, who was killed in the line of duty.
- Receive Ynetnews updates
directly to your desktop