The photo was taken by Deena Levenstein at the Inde Pen Dance event on Hahavatzelet St. in 2016.
The State of Israel is turning 69 and we’re pretty happy about that. Some quick math made me realize that Israel was 31 when I was born; that’s younger than I am today, which brings home just how young we truly are!
Being young, of course, means that we really know how to party. This guide includes the must-knows about Israel Independence Day in Jerusalem followed by a quick listing of the best events – from parties to BBQs (BBQs is one of the mitzvot – commandments – of the day) – taking place in Jerusalem in honor of this joyous day:
Things you aught to know
When is it? Israel Independence Day this year begins on Monday evening, May 1 and continues until the eve of Tuesday, May 2 2017.
An actual holiday: Many celebrate Yom Haatzmaut as a modern-day Jewish holiday. As such, many synagogues have special prayer services on Yom Haatzmaut eve, complete with singing and dancing. Examples of musical community services: The Western Wall, Beit Yehudit on Emek Refaim and Teddy Park
The transition ceremony: For many of us, one of the greatest traditions of the day is watching the official transition ceremony from Remembrance Day to Independence Day which takes place on Mount Herzl and is broadcast live on Israeli television. Though, unfortunately, most of it is not translated to English, there is still plenty of singing and dancing, as well as a soldier flag march, all worth watching (in my family’s humble opinion).
The most touching part of the ceremony is the lighting of 12 torches – in honor of the 12 Jewish tribes – by people who represent the eclectic and do-good nature of Israeli society. This year’s theme is Jerusalem. You can read about the people lighting the torches this year here and here.
Where to be on Independence Day eve: On the eve of Israel Independence Day, certain parts of Jerusalem are anywhere from very festive to a full-out party. The main hubs of activity are:
- Downtown Jerusalem – Some of the main roads are closed to traffic and the entire Downtown Triangle as well as many of the streets beyond, become packed with people. These streets include: Yaffo, Ben Yehuda, King George, Hillel, Shlomtzion Hamalka, Hahavatzelet and others. Watch out for foam spray and huge balloon hammers. There is live music on Havatzelet St. and at Hahatulot Square
- Safra Square – At the City Hall square at 9pm is a live concert of Israeli music with classics from 1948 to today. From midnight until 3am is a huge folk dancing party – one of my personal favorites.
- Mahane Yehuda Shuk – The beloved shuk becomes one big party on Yom Haatzmaut eve. The bars are open, the alleyways are packed and three DJ stands scattered throughout the shuk will keep the party going all night.
Fireworks: There are fireworks on Monday night at 10:30pm an 12am right above Gan Ha’atzmaut (Independence Park), the main park downtown.
BBQs & nature: Two of the most popular things on Yom Haatzmaut are mangals (BBQs) and nature. On the day of Yom Haatzmaut – Tuesday this year – the parks and nature reserves fill up with people BBQing, hiking and just generally enjoying the outdoors that Israel has to offer.
Sky show: The Israel Airforce, one of the country’s pride and joy, perform over all the major cities throughout Yom Haatzmaut day. There is actually a schedule, though a little complicated. You can read a partial translation of the program here. From what I understood, the flyover in Jerusalem will take place from 11:14-11:50am.
Events Monday night in Jerusalem
Basically every bar will be open and partying Monday night, so I’m not going to share info about each one individually. There are events that stuck out for me:
Independence Ball for Ex-Charedim
@ The Place, 3 Ben Shatah St. | 10/30NIS including 1 drink
8pm Screening of the state ceremony (read more about it above)
9pm Torch lighting by members of the ex-Charedi community
9:45pm Live concer
Boogie & Boogie for Women
9pm at Gerard Behar, 11 Bezalel St. | 40/30NIS
Israeli and international music, a mixed party alongside a party for women only
Live Music at Kikar Hamusica, Mike’s Place & Blue Hall Bar
Nachalat Shiva | More info
Live Israeli music, stand-up and DJ
10pm at Besarabia, 34 Ben Yehuda St. (under the old Mashbir)
BBQ at Abraham Hostel
Includes a great view of the fireworks!
Party at the Armon Hanatziv Boardwalk
Concert, activities for kids, fireworks and more