“When I’m in Jerusalem during Independence Day, I…”

Did you ever wonder how other people complete this sentence?

Well, this year we decided to find out, and asked different people to share their favorite Jerusalem-related Yom Haatzmaut activities/experiences/outings in Jerusalem. Some answers might surprise you, some might resonate with your own experiences, and some might give you ideas for next year!

Happy Independence Day!

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“When I’m in Jerusalem on Independence Day I am full of gratitude and humility to be living the dream that countless women, men, and children prayed with tears, hope and faith would one day come true.”

(a gate in Jerusalem, by Aliza Lipkin)

Aliza Lipkin

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 “When I’m in Jerusalem during Independence Day, I dance on the streets holding hands with total strangers.”

Batsheva Kozvin

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“When I’m in Jerusalem during Independence Day, I enjoy the day with my kids as new citizens of the most wonderful country for the Jewish nation.

We drape ourselves in the Israeli flag while we wave the flags in our outstretched arms up towards the sky as the jets fly in a spectacular synchronized fashion up above.

We enjoy family and friend time relishing in the shade of the trees in a local park. Parties and BBQs, with burgers, salads and many l’chaims, are scheduled throughout the day as we all enjoy the day off to celebrate Israel’s independence day!”

Tova Knecht

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“When I was in Jerusalem during Independence Day, I prayed hallel under the Old City walls as Yom HaZikaron turns to Yom Haatzma’ut.”

“And partook in the craziness of Israel’s Independence Day eve in Jerusalem’s Mamilla Mall just outside the walls of the Old City.”

Aryeh Green

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“At night, I love going to the matnas (community center) on Emek Refaim where they have a prayer service/concert and every kind of Israeli comes to pray and dance together. I also love going to Kikar Safra (Safra Square) at 2 am. Hundreds of people folk dancing…makes me feel like 69 years ago when people were doing hora in the streets. What a thing to be a part of!”

Naava Shafner

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“Watching midnight fireworks over Jerusalem.”

(Irene Rabinowitz)

Irene Rabinowitz

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“As families celebrate together around us in Gan Sacher, I help organize and serve home- made desserts for hundreds of lone soldiers who do not have families in Israel. Best part, I love having friends thank me for letting them help.”

Sharon Altshul

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“On Yom HaAtzmaut eve, I find myself torn between two identities: the religious one, which mandates that I spend the transition time from the grief of Yom Hazikaron in synagogue, at a ceremony followed by a festive prayer service celebrating the State of Israel as the beginning of the redemption, and the secular one, which calls on me to watch the ceremony at Har Herzl on television. Sometimes one identity wins, and sometimes the other.

Although recording devices make it possible to accommodate both of these identities, there is nothing like watching the torch-lighters and flag-bearers at Mount Herzl real time, and then dashing up the mountainside to watch the fireworks on the horizon; I’m a pushover for the schmaltz, the kitsch, and the exposure to the unsung heroes of this country. And if you’ve checked the schedules in the local newspapers in advance, you can spend hours watching fireworks in Jerusalem on Yom HaAtzmaut eve, watching the magical bursts of color rise up from Independence Park and the mountains surrounding the city, and hearing the booms echo across the mountaintops, always continuing just past the grand finale.”

Shira Pasternak Be’eri

Rachel Sharansky Danziger

Posted by Rachel Sharansky Danziger

Rachel Sharansky Danziger is a life-long Jerusalemite who's in love with her city's vibrant human scene. She blogs about life in Israel, Judaism, and parenting for The Times of Israel, Sifriyat Pijama, and Kveller, and you can follow her adventures on Facebook and via her personal blog.

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