So, you think you can’t celebrate Yom Ha’Atzmaut because you’re not in Israel? Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israel’s Declaration of Independence, can and should be celebrated by all Jews - no matter where we are.
In Israel, there are official events to commemorate the day including the lighting of 12 torches symbolizing the twelve tribes of Israel, an International Bible contest, and outdoor performances. Cities in the Diaspora often arrange their own formal celebrations that might include a festival honoring Israel, a speaker, or synagogue events.
If you would like to honor Yom Ha’Atzmaut, here are some thoughts on what you can do in your own home:
Invite some friends over and create a celebration of your own. Watch an Israeli movie (with subtitles if you need them). Eat Israeli food, and play Israeli music.
Show your children pictures and videos from your trip(s) to Israel. Let them get a feel for the country if they’ve never been there and relive their experience if they have.
Shop Israel. Buy yourself a piece of Judaica or a new bottle of wine – made in Israel.
Join in the worldwide singing of Hatikvah, an initiative to bring Jews of various languages, distances, and observances together for the singing of Israel’s national anthem.
Celebrate online. There are tons of YouTube videos with Israeli songs, Hebrew lessons, and other videos that will make you feel connected to Israel.
Invite your chaverah over to discuss the notion of independence, what it has meant for Israel, and what it will continue to mean in the future.
There are many craft projects you can complete with children including – filling in a map of Israel, creating Israeli flags, or making an Israel memory game.
Take a pretend journey to Israel with your children. Line up chairs and board the airplane. Turn different rooms in your home into the different parts of the small, but vast, country of Israel.
Hang an Israeli flag next to your American flag on the front of your house.
Research all of the great inventions and ideas that have come out of Israel.
Plan a real trip to Israel. (Ok, that’s actually number eleven. Were you counting?)
Most of us have grown up in a world where our Jewish freedom is taken for granted. However you plan to celebrate, find some time to contemplate the extraordinary meaning of this holiday. Without the State of Israel, where do you think the Jewish people would be today? What does it mean to have a homeland – even if you’ve never been there? How can you continue or begin to show Israel your support?