So much happens over the short time period of Yom HaZikaron and Yom Haatzmaut, the transition from Remembrance Day to Independence Day, it was hard to keep up and impossible to do all I wished I could.
However, until Yom Yerushalayim – or Jerusalem Day, on May 18, this year,
the flags will still be seen on the Jerusalem streets. Here’s a quick review of what you missed this year in Jerusalem!
At night there were multiple large events and small in most communities, again we attended a program for Yom HaZikaron sponsored by the Michael Levin Base, and this year the program included JNF participation. The program was conducted in English.
What an honor to meet leaders present from the Jewish War Veteran of the United States, one of many groups in the 1500-person crowded Givat Tachmoshet, Ammunition Hill amphitheater.
The speeches were all powerful and meaningful, and the IDF band added to the emotional aspect of the event.
Givat Tachmoshet was the scene of an important battle in 1967 with the Jordanian Legion, in the reunification of Jerusalem, MORE HERE.
While the Har Herzl Military Cemetery is the main venue for Yom HaZikaron, the next morning I decided to go to a smaller, less well-known Jerusalem cemetery.
Gravestones of the fallen have a small flag and black ribbon placed each year.
This year small groups gathered around a few of the graves.
A ceremony was held around the time of the morning siren.
I overheard one woman saying how much more meaningful the smaller ceremony was to her and her family.
The memorial siren went off as I walked to the cemetery.
In various locations around Jerusalem, there are memorials for fallen soldiers, on my way home I passed this stone. Notice the second name, Herzl Halevy z”l, the uncle and namesake of the current head of IDF who was killed in the Six-Day War.
Nightfall brought the transition from mourning for the fallen on Yom HaZikaron to the celebrations of Independence Day, the Diamond Anniversary year of Yom Haatzmaut. Israel at 75.
At Har Herzl, all negative predictions proved very wrong, the program was the best I have seen by far, even for the live enthusiastic audience.
As the sun sets, the program starts with Yizkor, the Jewish prayer for the dead. This year Rabbi Leo Dee was chosen, his voice sounded strained from having spoken to so many people and in interviews since the murder of his wife and daughters.
However, the transition to the celebration was fast and wonderful.
The dancers were impressive against the huge stage constructed each year by Herzl’s grave at the top of the mountain.
The live audience was also treated to a great show this year.
The seat I was told to take had a fabulous view.
As a tradition, the Knesset Speaker leads this program, Amir Ohana spoke well and then lit the first torch.
The audience was given lights to add to the production.
Twelve individuals are honored to lit a torch, one for each biblical tribe. The torch lighters were excellent selections this year, each person impressive for their accomplishments.
And more on with the show, bright and flashy, but more tasteful than usual.
Of course, the military flags were paraded,
and the lights attached to the seats changed colors for the audience’s enjoyment and participation.
But, viewing the formations worked much better on screens from above.
There were Israeli-based themes from over the past 7 decades,
concluding with Salah Shabbati for a crowd-pleasing ending.
What a shame this was not as widely covered as in the past, it was a winner.
Then, in the morning, after some celebration throughout the night, there was still much more.
All shops are closed as Yom Haazmaut is a national holiday.
I was impressed by the multiple Jerusalem Municipality cleanup trucks I passed on my way to the Jerusalem Theater.
The Chidon Tanach HaOlami, or International Bible Quiz, is another Yom Haaztmaut tradition for many families.
The international group of Bible students was down to the final eight contestants for the televised annual program.
The Jerusalem Mayor had asked a previous question and the Prime Minister asks one of the last questions.
This year two girls won first and second place, with a tense competition at the end. Here you can see more of the competition with a pleasant ending.
Good thing I got the flyovers at rehearsal, no such luck on Yom Haatzmaut.
And then, the “75 Years of Creation” celebration, the diplomatic reception held at Beit Hanasi, Israel President’s House, in the afternoon.
Ambassadors and military heads of their mission arrived on the red carpet.
This year 7 Israeli wineries in the Golan were featured.
Cheeses, made from cow, goat, and sheep milk, were beautifully displayed.
The main program is held in the back garden with a new stage this year.
I love the hats that are placed on the table each time.
Michal Herzog looked happy as she came out to greet the guests.
They posed with Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and his wife,
over and over again with the various Ambassadors to Israel.
People were smiling as they posed at the afternoon garden party.
Then seated for a program in the back garden,
which included musical interludes.
Eli Cohen mentioned in his remarks that there are 97 countries with representatives in Israel, and expects the number to rise to 100 next year.
The afternoon was another feel-good for Israel 75 celebration.
Besides so many hats and uniforms, wine and cheese, there was specialty ice cream and designer chocolates. After enough sugar and wine, I decided to go home and skip the Israel Prize, the other national program at the end of the day for Yom Haatzmaut. Time to review all the family photos of a day filled with hikes and BBQs. The smell of meat grilling filled the Jerusalem streets from thousands of Israeli Independence Day mangals.
At the national events, signs of protests were put away and Israel at 75 celebrations in Jerusalem went on in grand style.
Time for you to start planning next year in Jerusalem for 76!