It’s Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, and, as remarked upon by both local and foreign observers, the country swings in a schizophrenic kind of way from the mourning, sorrow and remembrance of Yom Hazikaron to the flag-waving patriotism and general merry-making of Yom Ha’atzmaut.
We started the day last night with a special prayer service which included Hallel (the thanksgiving prayer recited on festivals) at our central Synagogue, accompanied by music and community singing in a very moving service. From there the youngsters moved on to the dancing in the centre of town and admire the fireworks, while we oldsters went to a wonderful evening at my sister’s neighbours, where Yankele Ben-Sira, a Yiddish and Hebrew actor told us the story of his life and his escape from Europe, all accompanied with great humour and lots of Yiddish jokes. He was accompanied by my sister’s neighbour himself, Hanan Bar-Sela, a very talented clarinettist. And there was food. Lots of it. 🙂
Today the entire country seems to move outdoors to fire up the grills for a national “mangal” – barbecue. No doubt every blade of grass, every bench in every public park, and the shade of every tree will be taken up by celebrating citizens out to enjoy a national holiday. On the other hand the weather has turned very peculiar: a very hot hamsin, but very cloudy and a few drops of rain even fell a short while ago!
We will be heading out to our son who is holding a חנוכת בית (hanukat bayit – housewarming) of his new house in his Shomron community. That house was a long time in the building, courtesy of the blasted Obamaniac freeze a few years ago. However that is now in the past and I am so excited for them to be in their beautiful new home after having been cramped in a tiny caravan with 5 children for the last 6 years.
Various ceremonies will be taking place today, as in every year: The Hidon HaTanach – the International Bible Quiz for Youth, (watch live here) the Presidential Awards for outstanding soldiers, and the Israel Prize ceremony.
In honour of Israel’s 66th birthday, the ever-funny comedian Benji Lovitt has penned another hilarious yet so-true list of 66 things to love in Israel. Here is a small sample but read the lot to bring a silly yet satisfied grin to your face:
7. I love that the coolest guy at the party can be the dude named Pinchas who shows up with a 1 kilogram tub of chumus under his arm.
9. I love that when I walked into my neighborhood café, the waitress doing a crossword puzzle on her break asked me if Laban was Abraham’s brother. What’s a five-letter word for “the guy who screwed over Yakov”?
19. I love that the “at” symbol in the email addresses is named for its resemblance to a delicious pastry. [It’s called “strudel” in Hebrew 🙂 -Ed.]