For many centuries, other people ruled over the land of Israel and made it part of their empires. This ended in 1948 when the independent State of Israel was proclaimed and Israel became a country in its own right.
Yom HaAtzma’ut is a cause of great joy for Israel and for Jews everywhere – finally, Jews are again able to live in their homeland without being ruled over by other people, just like they had in ancient times.
The State of Israel was proclaimed on the 14th of May 1948 or the 5th of Iyar in the Jewish calendar. Even though this date is in the Omer period, Israel regaining its independence is such an important event for the Jewish people that the rabbis allow us to celebrate it with joy.
Immediately before Yom HaAtzma’ut each year is a day called Yom HaZikaron which means ‘Day of Remembrance’. This is a sad day when we remember and honour the soldiers and all those who have died defending Israel. Like all Jewish days, it starts in the evening and ends the following afternoon. As Yom Hazikaron ends, Israel leaves behind the sadness of the day and changes to celebrating Yom HaAtzma’ut.