A couple of weeks ago, Israel celebrated Memorial Day and Independence Day. Memorial Day was more like memorial week… the first day is Yom HaShoah (Day of Memory) and is in remembrance of victims of the Holocaust. The second day is Yom Hazikaron aShoah ve-laG’vurah (Day of the Memory for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism), quite a mouthful … Throughout the week there are a series of sirens that reverberate throughout Israel and for one minute everything stops… if you are driving, you stop the car and get out and stand in silence… if you are working, you stand silently… if you are in school, you stand at attention… It was quite a powerful experience and contrasted significantly with the Independence Day festivities as you shall soon see…
Independence Day is the day that marks the establishment of the State of Israel. The idea of a Jewish state had been gaining momentum since the earlier 1900s and since the end of World War I there had been increasing tension and conflict between the Arabs and Jews (and between each of them and British forces who controlled Palestine at the time). These tensions reached a tipping point in 1947, when the region erupted into civil war. At this point the freshly minted UN stepped in and on November 29, 1947 reached a resolution to divide Palestine into three areas: an Arab state, a Jewish state, and “the Special International Regime for the cities of Jerusalem and Bethlehem”.
The Jews accepted the plan but the (majority) Arab leaders and governments rejected it and any thought to divide up the territory. As a result the civil war raged on and on May 14, 1948 Israel declared its independence. This was hours before the British mandate of Palestine ended and as Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, and Syria prepared to invade. After 10 months of fighting the Israeli forces prevailed.
Okay… now you know the basics of the creation of the State of Israel… so let’s go back to present day… For Independence Day (a Wednesday), I drove to Jerusalem to meet up with Josh and his friends who were visiting from Colorado and Switzerland. We walked around the city and visited various sites in and around the Old City of Jerusalem. The Mahane Yehuda Market was bustling with activity as people prepared for the Independence Day celebrations.
For dinner that night we headed to the Machneyuda Restaurant. If you recall, Josh and I had a fabulous dinner here last December and this one did not disappoint either. It was food-gasmic!
At dinner, we asked our waiter where we should go to enjoy the celebrations tonight and he emphatically said that all of the cool kids would be at the Mahane Yehuda Market. On our walk to the restaurant we noticed several different stages being prepared but did not think too much of it and when we arrived back at the market it was around 10 p.m. and things were pretty subdued and quiet giving very little indication of what was soon to occur.
… but as more and more people arrived the air was filled with this energy and magnetism… The stalls and alleyways of the market were overflowing with hundreds of thousands of people into the streets… and everyone was dancing to the rhythm of the eclectic mix of music being blasted at 1 of the 20 or so stages…
I was just mesmerized by the scene unfolding around me and soon enough I caught the fever… at first it started with my feet that slowly began to tap to the beat… and then it was my legs… and soon enough I was consumed by the energy and dancing with 1000s of my closest friends… Good times and quite different than Independence Day in the United States…
The pictures do not quite do it justice, so I created a video to help capture energy of that night… Enjoy!
The next day there was an air show at the beach in Tel Aviv, which got me giddy with excitement about fighter jets, call signs, flying over the admiral’s daughter, and the need for speed!!! It also brought out corny Top Gun references… I wasn’t able to stay long before I had to skedaddle to catch a flight to Cyprus but more on that later this week…
Until next time this is Maverick signing off!
One Comment Add yours
Looks like a lot of fun and good to see a country that really celebrates it’s independence