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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Israel Series at HebrewPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Israeli holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 16, Yom Ha'atzmaut or Independence Day
Independence Day - יום העצמאות (yom haatzmaut) is a national holiday marking the declaration of the establishment of the State of Israel at the end of the British Mandate. Independence Day is celebrated on the 5th day of Iyar- אייר, according to the Hebrew calendar, and it begins immediately after the conclusion of the Memorial Day for the Fallen of Israel’s Wars. In 2015, people celebrated Independence Day on April 25th, and in 2016, they will celebrate it on May 12th.
Now, before we get into more detail, I've got a question for you-
Sometimes, Independence Day is celebrated a few days before or after the relevant Hebrew date. Can you guess why?
If you don't already know, keep listening! The answer will be revealed at the end of this lesson!
On May 14th, 1948, which corresponds to the Hebrew date of the 5th of Iyar, 5708, David Ben Gurion declared the establishment of the State of Israel. The declaration occurred approximately eight hours before the end of the British Mandate, as defined by the UN resolution passed on November 29th, 1947. During this event, the Declaration of Independence - הכרזת העצמאות (hachrazat ha’atzmaut) —the document that declared the establishment of the State of Israel—was signed. The Hebrew date on which the declaration took place was designated as Independence Day.
The official ceremony that marks the end of Memorial Day events, and the beginning of Independence Day events, is the Torch-Lighting Ceremony - טקס הדלקת המשואות (tekes hadlakat hame’suot), held in Jerusalem. The torches are lit by Israelis whose achievements constitute a contribution to society and to the country. Aside from this ceremony, a military flyover - מטס צבאי (matas tz’vai) and naval sail traverse the country, and during the afternoon, the International Bible Contest - חידון התנ״ך (hidon hatanach) for Youth is held. The events of the day conclude with the Israel Prize award ceremony - פרס ישראל (Pras israel).
Even before Independence Day, Israeli flags are hung on the streets, and on the eve of Independence Day, stages are erected all over the country and fireworks are set off. Many people go out to the streets holding incandescent toys, and spray foam at each other. Independence Day is a national holiday, and many families use this time to relax, have picnics and barbecues, hike in nature conservations, or visit museums and other sites that are open to the public free of charge.
Television channels also broadcast festive programming and Israeli cinema.
Every year, a theme is chosen for the main ceremony, and those lighting the torches are connected to that theme. In 2015, the theme was Israeli trailblazers, and among the torch-lighters were the inventors of the memory stick and irrigation bubbler.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
Sometimes, Independence Day is celebrated several days before or after its Hebrew date. Can you guess why?
When the Hebrew date for Independence Day falls on a Monday, Friday or Saturday, Independence Day is celebrated earlier, or later, to prevent the desecration of the Sabbath during the festivities, or when preparing for them.
How was this lesson? Did you learn something interesting? What national celebration do you have in your country?
Leave a comment letting us know at HebrewPod101.com, and we'll see you in the next lesson!