Dvar Israel: Shabbat, May 6, 2017

Being in Canada on Yom Haazmaut, Israel’s Independence Day was better than I expected. I thought I was going to be home in my room, all by myself, jealous of my friends back home in Israel. They all got together and celebrated completely with pure joy and total pride. I forget, that after being here for more than 8 months, I am in my home away from home. I was surprised to discover that Canadians also celebrate Israel’s Yom Haazmaut! Bar and I, were invited to a Jewish student party on the eve of Yom Haazmaut. There were so many people who came to celebrate Israel. It was amazing.

Let me tell you a little bit of how it is in Israel. First thing’s first, watch out from the foam spray! As a child, I remember walking on the streets of my hometown of Kfar-Saba with my family and counting the seconds until my parents would finally buy me the spray! Then the real fun would begin, as you wander around, searching for victims. Once you located a likely candidate and you finally spray them – the feeling is amazing! And then there is nothing left to do but wait for their response when they shout back at you, “Yom Haatzmaut Sameach”! You may forget the date on the calendar but once you find yourself sprayed by some kid on the street – you know that it is Israel’s Independence Day. You may be asking yourself, “why is everybody on the streets”? In every city in Israel, stages are being set up, and famous performers are celebrating Israel’s birthday. The highlight of this night is always the fireworks spectacle.
As a teenager, my parents finally let me go out with friends on my own! I live in the center of Israel, which makes it easy. My friends and I always start the evening in Kfar-Saba, and then we travel from one city to the other; from Raanana to Herzliya to Tel-Aviv - depending on where the good concerts are!

The following day is fully dedicated to our families. It’s a day off and what is there to do on such a day? BBQ of course. It is the only day you can find orthodox people BBQing outside. All the parks, the gardens, and nature reserves are crowded!! EVERYONE is outside celebrating. There is one more special activity to do on this day. Many army bases, that on a normal day, would be closed for citizens, are open. Families will visit and walk around, and do whatever they can to make the soldiers on the base happy, whether their kids are stationed there or not. The air squadrons show off their skills, and you will see them flying all along the shore line throughout the day.

Yom Haazmaut, is an important day for my country. Until this year, I didn’t even fully realize its true meaning. I just partied with my friends and family. But now, far from home, I finally realize how grateful I should be for this day and for my country. It seems like everybody back home already figured it out. The rest of the year there is plenty of time for negative thoughts, politics, problems and hopefully solutions too but everyone takes this one amazing day to come together united in celebration and in thanks for Israel. Ein li eretz acheret – I have no other country and I am super proud to be an Israeli.

Shabbat Shalom.