These past few weeks were momentous ones for the State of Israel. On April 12, Israel celebrated Yom HaShoah, which commemorates the death of millions of Jews during the Holocaust.
On April 18, Yom Hazikaron, Israel Memorial Day, Israelis remembered Israeli soldiers missing in action, those who lost their lives fighting for freedom for the State of Israel, and terrorist victims, felled by forces who wish to see the end of the Jewish State.
This was immediately followed, on April 19, by the joyous celebrations of Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s 70th Independence Day.
Lag B’omer with its festive bonfires was on May 3.
On May 12, Israel won the Eurovision Song contest. See the winning song, Toy, by Netta Barzilai below.
On May 13 Israelis rejoiced on Yom Yerushalayim, which celebrates the reunification of Jerusalem and the ability of Jews to visit the Western Wall and the Temple Mount.
On May 14, the United States moved its embassy to Jerusalem, followed two days later by Guatemala and on May 21 by Paraguay. Unfortunately, on the day of the United States Embassy move, 50,000 Palestinians engaged in very violent riots, including attempts to breach the security wall separating Gaza from Israel, throwing Molotov cocktails, sending flaming kites towards Israel, etc. These acts, which endangered the lives of Israeli citizens, resulted in the unfortunate death of 62 Palestinians, at least 53 of whom were members of terrorist organizations. Let’s hope Hamas will end the violence so peace can be restored.
After nightfall on May 19 and on May 20, Israel celebrated the Jewish Holiday of Shavuot, Pentecost, on which Jews celebrate the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. It’s customary to learn Torah throughout the night. In Jerusalem, tens of thousands finish their nightime of study by walking to the Kotel, Western Wall, before dawn, to pray the morning prayer at sunrise. This practice began in 1967, when the army regained control of the Kotel a week before Shavuot and opened it to Jewish visitors on Shavuot. That year over 200,00 Jews came to pray at the site that had been off limits to them since 1948. Since then thousands of Jews continue to walk to the Kotel every Shavuot.
Now its back to the regular routine: for elementary, junior high and high school students until the end of school year in June; college students finish in June unless they they take classes in the summer semester, which ends in August; and for many employees until August, when most Israelis take their vacations.
The three week period of mourning for the Temple begins on July 1 and Tisha B’Av, the fast day for the two Temples, begins the night of July 21.
The Jewish High Holidays are early this year. The first night of Rosh Hashanah is on September 9.