What’s Up Hanegev,
It’s your Regional Israeli Affairs VP, Avi Snyder, asking for a second of your time. Coming up are two very important days not only for Israel but for us as Jews. Yom HaZikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut. For those of you who don’t know about these days, don’t worry I’m here to tell you.
Yom HaZikaron, which starts the night of May 4th this year, is observed as a Memorial Day for soldiers who lost their lives in battle or ways defending Israel. It is celebrated on the fourth of Iyar every year and is one of the four new holidays added to the Jewish national calendar since the creation of Israel. Beginning at sunset the night before and lasting throughout the entire day, places of entertainment are closed by law while shops, restaurants and movie theaters are shut down by tradition. Also, perhaps one of the most widely recognized commemoration is the sounding of an air raid siren twice during the day. During the two-minute blasts, all activity immediately ceases. People stand in respect for the sacrifice of those who died defending Israel.
The official switch from Yom HaZikaron to Yom Ha’atzmaut happens a few minutes after sundown. Yom Ha’atzmaut takes place every year on the fifth of Iyar (May 5th this year) and is a joyous holiday. This is Israel’s Independence Day! The reason that this holiday always follows the Yom HaZikaron is simple; Israelis owe their independence–the very existence of the state–to the soldiers who sacrificed their lives for it. 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 government and many spend the night dancing Israeli folk dances or singing Israeli songs. 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.
Well there you have it HaNegev; I hope this letter was of help to you. If you have a moment, try and think of all of those who fought and still fight today to defend our home and go out on May 5th (to your temple) and celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut.
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Avi C. Snyder
HaNegev Israeli Affairs Vice President ’14-’15