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For Jews around the world, joining with Israelis celebrating Yom Ha'atzmaut has become a concrete link in the Jewish connection to the land of Israel. Israel's Independence Day is celebrated on the fifth day of the month of Iyar, which is the Hebrew date of the formal establishment of the State of Israel, when members of the "provisional government " read and signed a Declaration of Independence in Tel Aviv. The original date corresponded to May 14, 1948.

Yom Ha'atzmaut in Israel is always preceded by Yom Hazikaron, Israel's Memorial Day for the fallen soldiers. The message of linking these two days is clear: Israelis owe their independence - the very existence of the state - to the soldiers who sacrificed their lives for it.

What do people do?
While very many Israelis and Diaspora Jews agonise about some of the very real difficulties facing Israel, as the country struggles with external enemies, and many internal problems, nevertheless the great majority have a very real commitment to, and sense of support for the Jewish homeland, and this is demonstrated in many ways. Other than the official ceremonies, Israelis celebrate Yom Ha'atzmaut in a variety of ways. In the cities, the nighttime festivities may be found on the main streets. Crowds will gather to watch public shows offered for free  by the municipalities and the government. Many spend the night dancing Israeli folk dances or singing Israeli songs. During the daytime thousands of Israeli families go out on hikes and picnics. Yom Ha'atzmaut is concluded with the ceremony of granting the "Israel Prize" recognizing individual Israelis for their unique contribution to the country's culture, science, arts, and the humanities.

How do we celebrate at Westminster Synagogue?
For British Jews, celebrating Yom Ha'atzmaut has been a way to express solidarity with the state of Israel and to strengthen our alliance with it, and this very much reflects the way that we feel about it at Westminster Synagogue. This year we will celebrate Yom Ha'azmaut on the Friday 24th April. More information to follow. 

Tue, 19 October 2021 13 Cheshvan 5782