Israel celebrates 61 years of independence

Israel celebrates 61 years of independence


Remembrance Day for the Fallen of Israel's Wars and Israel Independence Day

28-29 April 2009
4-5 Iyar 5769


The national anthem: Hatikva

Israel Independence Day is celebrated annually, according to the Hebrew calendar, on 5 Iyar, the anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel. The day preceding this celebration is devoted to the memory of those who gave their lives for the achievement of the country's independence and its continued existence. This proximity is intended to remind people of the heavy price paid for independence. On this day 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.

Yom Hazikaron, Remembrance Day, which will begin on Monday evening, April 27, is a day of collective and personal anguish mingled with awe and honor for the fallen. The official events begin at 8:00 PM with a moment of national silence heralded by a one minute siren.  

Officer places a flag on a fallen soldier's grave. (Photo: IDF Spokesperson)

The following morning, ceremonies commence at 11:00 AM at 43 IDF military cemeteries located throughout the country following a two minute blast of the siren. There will also be a ceremony for overseas Mahal volunteers who fought and died during the War of Independence, which will take place near the Sha'ar Hagai Junction. Israel's flag, adorned with a black ribbon and memorial flame, is placed on each and every grave of those who fell in Israel's battles and are buried in military cemeteries throughout Israel. It expresses the country's respect for the fallen as well as the entire country's participation in the grief of the families.

  • "The ambassadors of peace shall weep bitterly..."
    - In memory of those who have fallen while on duty in the Israeli Foreign Service

  • Yizkor

    A total of 22,570 men and women have been killed defending the land of Israel since 1860, the year that the first Jewish settlers left the secure walls of Jerusalem to build new Jewish neighborhoods.

    In the past year, since Remembrance Day 2008, 133 members of the security forces - police, IDF, Border Police, Israel Security Agency and other organizations - have been killed in the service of the state.

     David Ben-Gurion
     declares the
     establishment of
     the State of Israel

    Israel's 61st Independence Day celebrations will commence on Tuesday evening, April 28, when the state flag is raised to full mast at a national ceremony on Mount Herzl, at which twelve torches are lit. Theodor Herzl was the leader and founder of the Zionist movement and increased international recognition for the need of a Jewish state.

    On May 14th, 1948, the day the British Mandate expired, the new Jewish state - the State of Israel - was formally established in parts of what was known as the British Mandate for Palestine. With the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, Jewish independence, lost two thousand years earlier, was restored. Independence Day is filled with festivities and celebrations including picnics, barbecues, family gatherings and nature trips. Balconies, car windows, store fronts and more are liberally decorated with Israeli flags.

    Independence Day is a celebration of the renewal of the Jewish state in the Land of Israel, the birthplace of the Jewish people. In this land, the Jewish people began to develop its distinctive religion and culture some 4,000 years ago, and here it has preserved an unbroken physical presence, for centuries as a sovereign state, at other times under foreign domination. Throughout their long history, the yearning to return to the land has been the focus of Jewish life. 

    Since its establishment, Israel continues to be a homeland to the thousands who make their way to Israel annually. It is home to some of the holiest religious sites of the three major religions, all which enjoy the democratic rights delineated in the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel.

    Population of Israel: 7.4 million

    On the eve of Israel's 61st Independence Day, the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics announced that the population of Israel numbers 7,411,000 people - 5,593,000 Jews (75.5% of the total population) and 1,498,000 Arabs (20.2%); on the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 the total population numbered 806,000. 70% of the total Jewish population are "Sabras" - born in Israel - compared with 35% native-born in 1948. 

    Since Independence Day last year there have been approximately 154,000 babies born, and more than 12,000 immigrants arrived, in Israel.

    Live Hatikva

    On Wednesday, April 29th beginning at 10:50PM Israel time, communities from around the world will join together to sing Israel's national anthem Hatikva.  Broadcasting from Tel Aviv, the Mayor will join with over 100 young adults celebrating Tel Aviv's 100th Birthday and the 61st birthday of the State of Israel. Last year, Live Hatikva broke the Guinness Book of Records for the number of people singing a national anthem in unison. You're welcome to watch last year's Live Hatikva at
    Live Hatikva will be broadcast around America and on the Internet streaming live at

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