Yom HaZikaron, Memorial Day for fallen soldiers, begins today at sundown. Then, Yom Ha’atzmaut, Independence Day in Israel, begins tomorrow at sundown.
Israel may be the only country on the planet to routinely celebrate civil holidays twice. Why? Because prior to implementation of today’s Gregorian calendar, the Hebrew calendar was a lunar one, based on a 360 day year. Furthermore, a Hebrew day begins at sundown rather than midnight.
So, sundown tomorrow marks the beginning of Yom Ha’atmaut (Independence Day) on the Hebrew calendar. Just as on Independence Day in America, Jewish families are known to attend barbecues and picnics, go to the beach, and enjoy fireworks on Yom Ha’atmaut. It is a joyous occasion.
Meanwhile, according to the Gregorian calendar, May 14, 1948, remains the day in which the rest of the world acknowledges Israel’s independence. Personally, I think it is okay to commemorate both days. After all, why limit such a celebration to only one day!
So, apart from understanding the reason for conflicting dates of celebration, it is also important to understand this special day in Israel’s history. Enjoy!