Israel Independence Day is celebrated annually, according to the Hebrew calendar, on 5 Iyar, the anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel. In 2009, it will be celebrated on the evening of Tuesday 28 April.
The day preceding this celebration is Yom Hazikaron , Israel 's Memorial Day, which will begin on Monday evening, 27 April, the entire nation remembers its debt and expresses eternal gratitude to its sons and daughters who gave their lives for the achievement of the country's independence and its continued existence. It is a day of collective and personal anguish mingled with awe and honour for the fallen.
From Liberation to Independence
At Pesach we celebrate the liberation of the Jewish people from the slavery in Egypt – our first festival of national liberation. A mere ten days later, Jews around the world celebrate our national independence on Yom Ha'atzmaut – the anniversary of the establishment of the Jewish state.
We know that the effort, the rituals, and the seder of Pesach are annual activities which not only mark the chag for us, but form the tradition of Pesach which we hand down to our children. In this way, the meaning of Pesach endures through the generations.
We in Melbourne are closely bonded to Israel – we are known to be one of the most Zionist communities in the world. We are a Zionist kehilla, which prides itself on its connection with Israel , linking smachot to the state of Israel , and standing solidly with Israel in good times and bad. It's time to build your own tradition of Yom Ha'atzmaut. Do something on an annual basis to ensure that the miracle of an Independent state of Israel is also acknowledged and celebrated by the generations of the future. Just as we would not say that having a model seder at school is enough for our children to mark Pesach, we also need to do things out of school to reinforce Yom Ha'atzmaut and our connection to Israel . There is no better way to start than the communal celebrations and events.
Yom Hazikaron, Memorial Day for Israel 's fallen, will be commemorated on Monday 27 April 2009 at the Robert Blackwood Hall, Monash University (Clayton). This moving and appropriate tribute to those who gave their lives for the establishment and defence of our state, and for victims of terror, is one which all of us who care for Israel must be part of. Pre-allocated, reserved seats are available at a nominal cost by contacting 9272 5544, or general admission on the night (doors will open at 7.00pm ) is free of charge.
On Tuesday 28 April 2009, the Melbourne Jewish community will celebrate Yom Ha'atzmaut at Hamer Hall (Concert Hall) . The festivities have been designed with the whole community in mind, and there is something for everyone – from young children, to the older members of the community.
I look forward to seeing you all at Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha'atzmaut in 2009.
Ginette is the Executive Director of the Zionist Council of Victoria