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 Holiday Central > Yom Ha'atzmaut > How to Celebrate Yom Haatzmaut
 How is Yom Ha'azmaut Celebrated?

Yom Ha’atzmaut always follows Yom Hazikaron. To mark the switch from a somber commemoration of Israel’s fallen soldiers and terror victims to the happy celebration of Israel’s independence a ceremony is conducted on Mount Herzl. The flag that had been flying at half mast in honor of the fallen soldiers is raised and the president of Israel delivers a congratulatory speech. A parade of soldiers representing the army, navy and air force follows that speech each represented by their flag.

In the evening there is a torch lighting ceremony in Hebrew (Hadlakat Masuot –הדלקת משואות), in which 12 torches are lit by a dozen Israeli citizens representing the 12 tribes of Israel. The torch lighters are Israeli citizens who have achieved and significantly contributed to Israeli society in a specific area. Each one introduces himself by name, place of birth and profession and who or what he is honoring by lighting the torch. The torch lighting ceremony is accompanied by the army band playing joyous tunes and songs.

Though Yom Ha’atzmaut is a national holiday, it is celebrated as a religious one as well. Typically Jewish, the celebration of the holiday is topic of debate among the different sects of Judaism, inciuding different factons of the orthodox. In different synagogues certain prayers are added as thanks to God for the miracle of the day. The Reform prayer-book Shaare Tefila includes a special service for Yom Haatzmaut, including Yaale veYavo a unique prayer that is recited on a Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Pesach, Shavuot, Rosh Chodesh (first day of a new month).

The conservatives add a special version of al Hanissim initiated by the Hakibutz Hadati (modern orthodox kibbutz movement), as well as the Hallel into their prayerbook – Sim Shalom. They also read a portion of the Torah, while some include reading the Haftarah from Isaiah 10:32–12:6.

Orthodox Jews follow different Rabbis’ rulings as to how and if they commemorate and celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut. Many follow the decision of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel to mark the day with the recital of Hallel, just like other joyous Jewish holidays, as well as adding a special Haftarah (biblical) reading. Others recite the Hallel without its preceding blessing, to differentiate if from other holidays that are biblically mandated.

Many ultra-orthodox Jews feel that since Yom Haatzmaut falls during the mourning period between Passover and Lag Baomer, it can not be celebrated with singing the Hallel and other merriment reserved for joyous occasions.

Another group of orthodox Jews follow the Rabbis who believe that Yom Ha’atzmaut should be observed as a rabbinically established holiday just like Chanukah and Purim since all three commemorate the Jewish victory over an enemy bent on their destruction. There are historical precedence of Jewish people creating small Purim like celebrations by adding certain prayers and liturgies commemorating the miracle of being saved from some evil decree. In places where Jews were saved from destruction, blood libels, riots, and Nazi occupation, special minor Purim celebrations were instituted.


Mazor Guide to Yom Haatzmaut brings you much more about the holiday, its meaning and its traditions... See the links below.

MazorGuide Recommended Reading

Letters from Jerusalem 1947-1948 (Paperback)
~ by Zipporah Porath

Battleground: Fact & Fantasy in Palestine (Paperback)
~ by Samuel Katz



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