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Israel InformationIsrael Independence Day 2020

Israel Independence Day 2020

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Last Updated on December 13, 2021

Celebrating Israel’s 72nd Independence Day – Yom Ha’atzmaut.

Hebrew: יום העצמעות

Flag of Israel3 

As we fight the Corona battle this year it has been decided:

  • There will be no public Yom HaAtzmaut celebrations.
  • The official Yom HaAtzmaut ceremony will be televised with no live audience participation.
  • Celebrations in the home with your nuclear family only.
  • The country will be under full curfew from 17:00 on 28th April until 20:00 on 29th April
  • Intercity travel will be forbidden
  • You may only leave your home to purchase essential items: food and medications and for emergency purposes only
  • Stores to remain closed
  • Fireworks are permissible but under the current corona circumstances, many cities and towns have decided to refrain from this practice.

The final program for Yom HaAtzmaut

Tuesday, April 28th, 2020

  • 5:00pm – Nationwide curfew commences (no intercity travel, no public transport, the 100m boundary)
  • 7:40 pm – Yom Hazikaron closing ceremony which merges with the Yom HaAtzmaut opening ceremony and the torch lighting ceremony. 

Wednesday, April 29th, 2020

  • 9:40am – The annual Israel Air Force (IAF) flyover – ‘MATAS
  • 10:00am – Annual Jerusalem broadcast from the President’s house
  • 11:00am – Annual international bible quiz
  • 7:30pm – Awarding the prestigious ‘Israel Prize’ to a deserving citizen for his/her outstanding contribution to Israeli society.  Among this year’s 12 recipients
    • Prof. Joseph Klafter – Israel Prize in Chemistry, 2020. An Israeli chemical physics professor who is the Heineman Chair of Physical Chemistry at Tel Aviv University, and was the eighth President of Tel Aviv University from 2009 to 2019.
    • Prof. Vered Noam – Israel Prize for Talmud Studies, 2020.  Prof. Noam is the first woman, in Israel, to receive this prize
    • Avishay Braverman –  Israel Prize for Lifetime Achievement, 2020. An Israeli economist and politician. Former president of the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Labor Party Member of the Knesset for 9 years,  Minister of Minority Affairs between 2009 and 2011.
    • Noami Stuchiner – an olah vatika from South Africa, Founder of Beit Issie Shapiro, Lifetime Achievement, 2020
  • 8 pm – Curfew ends

Yom HaAtzmaut balcony barbecue jokes

Independence Day background and traditions

David Ben-Gurion publicly read the Israeli Declaration of Independence on the 14th May, 1948 corresponding to the 5th day of the month of Iyar in the Hebrew calendar.  Later, David Ben Gurion became Israel’s first Prime Minister.  His declaration concluded that the Jewish state in Eretz Israel, would be known as the “State of Israel”.

Independence day is marked as a public holiday in Israel but before the celebration, there is great sadness and an outpouring of grief.

Yom Hazikaron – Memorial day for fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism

The day before Yom Ha’atzmaut is marked as a day of mourning. The State of  Israel commemorates the soldiers that fell defending the country, its heroes and the civilian victims of battles, wars and terrorist events.  This day is called the Remembrance Day or Yom Hazikaron.  It is a day of mourning and is marked with official ceremonies and memorial services across the country. 

Yom Ha’atzmaut – Independence Day

At 8pm on the eve of the 5th of Iyar, the heavy sadness of Remembrance Day turns into joy as official and public Independence Day activities start. Free concerts, dancers, singers and artists perform at venues country-wide.  Fireworks light up the sky.  Street vendors sell felafel, Israeli flags and party items.  People go out and many party late into the night.  It is a fun and festive evening.

Yom Ha’Atzmaut Celebrations

During the day of the 5th of Iyar, celebrations continue.  Families get together at their homes or in public and nature parksKibbutz communities have fun activities for their members and guests;  tractor rides, water slides and other fun stuff for ages 0-99.

It is customary to have a huge BBQ lunch.  Israelis enjoy eating  shishlik, kebabs, ribs and fish and of course steak, all prepared on the grill.  Pita, hummus, tahina, middle-eastern and other salads accompany the meal.  End your meal with the first watermelons of the season.  Families and friends spend the afternoon together chatting, catching up, drinking Turkish coffee and snacking on varieties of garinim (roasted seeds of all kinds; sunflower, pumpkin etc.), nuts and toasted marshmallows.

On Yom Ha’atzmaut The Israel Prize is awarded – largely regarded as the country’s highest honor – it is awarded to Israeli citizens or organizations who have displayed excellence in their fields or have contributed in a significant way to Israeli culture. The prize is awarded in a state ceremony in Jerusalem, in the presence of the President and the Prime Minister.

The International Bible Contest, also held on Yom Ha’atzmaut, is an annual, worldwide competition on the Tanach (Jewish Bible) for high school students. Regional competitions are held in the Diaspora, and the winners of these contests, together with their Israeli counterparts, participate in a final quiz contest in Jerusalem.  The Prime Minister usually attends.

As this fun day draws to an end, Israelis head back to their homes, happy and satisfied and just a little reluctant to have to go back to work the following day!

Calendar date

Yom Ha’atzmaut is celebrated on the 5th day of Iyar.  However if the 5th of Iyar falls on a Friday or Saturday, the Independence Day celebrations are moved up to the preceding Thursday.  If the 5th of Iyar is on a Monday, the festival is postponed to Tuesday.  This is to avoid potential violation of Sabbath laws by preparing for Yom Hazikaron or Yom Ha’atzmaut on a Shabbat.

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Independence Day Terminology

English Transliterations Hebrew
BBQ Mangal מנגל
Celebration/s Chagiga/chagigot  חגיגה/חגיגות
Fireworks Zikukim  זיקוקים
Independence Day Yom Ha’atzmaut  יום העצמעות
Independence Day Eve Erev Yom Ha’atzmaut  ערב יום העצמעות
International Bible Quiz Chidon HaTanach חידון התנך
Israeli flag Degel Yisrael דגל ישראל
Israel Prize Pras Yisrael פרס ישראל
Remembrance Day Yom Hazikaron  יום הזיכרון
Remembrance Day Eve  Erev Yom Hazikaron  ערב יום הזיכרון
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