Saturday, May 14, 2011

Yom Ha'Atzmaut - Independence Day

Israel's Independence Day, Yom Ha'Atzmaut, began the very minute that Israel's Memorial Day ended. One of the most cherished Israeli holidays of the year, the switch from sorrow to joy at sundown was quite sudden and dramatic. You would have found the streets jam-packed with celebrants in the center of town, fireworks exploding mid-air and a raucous spirit all over the country as the people celebrate the reward that resulted out of all that was lost.


Israel's Independence Day is celebrated each year on 5 Iyar, which corresponds to May 14, 1948, the day that the State of Israel was proclaimed. Here is a photo from that historic day when Israel became a country just a mere 63 years ago:

Days before the celebration starts, Israeli flags begin to wave from almost every house and car. As you now know, on the eve of Israel Independence Day, there are parties, singing and dancing on the streets, and fireworks going off simultaneously throughout the country:


The next day, just as in the states, the locals head out to crowded beaches and parks with family and friends where they spend the day resting, relaxing, celebrating....and barbecuing. Everyone packs their picnic baskets with the staples: charcoal, chicken skewers, lots of meat, Israeli salad, chatzil, and bamba. Then they head out in search of the perfect picnic spot. The whole country is dotted with families outdoors enjoying "The Land."

Crowded beach in Tel Aviv
Some R & R in Tel Aviv's Yarkon Park
Tel Aviv's Yarkon Park
Families enjoying the green oasis of Yarkon Park
These pictures (above) bring a smile to my face, reminding me of one of my favorite paintings from the talented pointillism expert Georges Seurat, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte:

If you're lucky, you might also see overhead the plane shows as they zoom past on Independence Day as part of the traditional menu:


Planes fly by overhead at Tel Aviv's main beach
Onlookers look on enraptured by the plane show
We opted to spend our day over at Yarkon Park where my husband and his Colombian friends have made a tradition of celebrating the festive holiday of their adopted country. If was a great way to see Israelis in a celebratory mood - though it made me oh-so-nostalgiac for the 4th of July back home! It seemed like I was almost "cheating" on the US. Pictures to come in the upcoming post of our day at Yarkon Park. Regardless, it was a wonderful day that epitomized Israeli culture.

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