Since the establishment of the State of Israel, four new holidays have been added to the Jewish calendar – Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day), Yom Ha’atzmaut (Independence Day) and Yom Yerushalayim ( Jerusalem Day).
Three national days – Yom HaShoah, Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut – fall within one week. This is when the sense of Israelihood is felt most keenly. This is the week when Israeli flags wave on all major streets across the country and from most windows and cars. This is the week when skeptical Israelis set aside their cynicism and appreciate their existence. This is the one week when newspapers focus not on current events but on stories that happened many years ago, com- memorating those who died so the country could survive.
Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israeli Independence Day, marks the establishment of the modern state of Israel in 1948. It is observed on or near the 5th of Iyar in the Hebrew calendar, which is usually in April.
Scheduling Yom Hazikaron right before Yom Ha’atzmaut reminds people of the price paid for independence. Most Israelis have served in the armed forces or have a connection with people who were killed during their military service.
Yom HaShoah commemorates the 6 million Jews murdered during World War II. Yom Hazikaron is a day of remembrance and a day of awareness. Yom Ha’atzmaut celebrates the recovery and the revival of the Jewish state.
To me, Yom Hazikaron is all about dedicating a day to remember all of our beloved Israeli soldiers who lost their lives for us for the State of Israel so that we can live our ives peacefully and normally, like everyone else. During Yom Hazikaron we acknowledge that having our own country to live in is not something we take for granted. Many men and women, some of them very young, have fought for this privi- lege; a lot of them are still doing it on a daily basis, and we should always be grateful to them. Remember those who have fallen in battle because, by their death, they have commanded us to live.
This year I have the privilege to plan the Yom Ha’atzmaut celebrations in Portland. I will try to bring my past experi- ences and feelings of Yom Ha’atzmaut to Portland. The hap- piness of the people in Israel when they are celebrating and the energy on the street, is what I aim to bring to that party. The celebrations will take place on April 21 at the Mittleman Jewish Community Center.
Join me at 5 pm to celebrate Israel’s 65th birthday, with food, music, an art display, Israeli dancing and an Israeli band. The band is called The Peatot, and they have been playing together since 2008. Playing covers of Israeli hits from the past 40 years, they are focused on delivering a high-energy dance party for all ages.
Natalie Nahome is the Israeli Shlicha (emissary) to the Jewish Community of Portland.