Below is a collection of Yom Ha’atzmaut lesson plans, videos, and articles created by The Lookstein Center staff or contributed to the site by Jewish educators.
Yom Ha’atzmaut Holiday Overview
- What: Yom Ha’azmaut is the official Israeli Independence Day, celebrating the foundation of the State of Israel in 1948.
- Where: Yom Ha’azmaut is an Israeli national holiday but is recognized and celebrated by Jews around the world.
- When: On the Hebrew calendar, its official date is the 5th of Iyyar. This year, Yom Ha’azmaut falls out on the evening of Tuesday, April 28th, 2020, until the following evening.
- How: In Israel, Yom Ha’azmaut starts off with a Tekes Ma’avar (transitional ceremony) from Yom Hazikaron. Many religious Zionists will participate in a celebratory prayer service that evening and the following morning, during which Hallel is often recited. Yom Ha’azmaut is a day off for Israelis and many people celebrate it by spending the day with their families and having a barbecue at the park.
For a complete list of Yom Hazikaron resources, see here.
Yom Ha'atzmaut Vocabulary
Anthem (referring to Israel’s national anthem, the Hatikvah)
Hebrew for “flag dance”. An intricate flag dance is performed every year at Israel’s official Tekes Ma’avar.
|Al ha’aish, mangal||
Hebrew names for “barbeque” which is the Israeli meal of choice on Independence day.
על האש, מנגל
The ceremony that takes place as a transition between Yom Hazikaron and Yom Haatzmaut.
Celebratory prayer (prayers on Yom Haatzmaut are usually sung in a celebratory fashion and the Hallel prayer is often included).
The War of Independence. This war took place immediately after the State of Israel was declared in 1948.
Yom Ha'atzmaut Educational Themes
- Secular vs. religious zionism
- How to relate to Israel as diaspora jews
- Gratitude and remembrance of the fallen before celebrating in the present
- Modern miracles
Ideas for Celebration
- Eat Israeli style cuisine, such as falafel, shwarma, shakshuka, couscous, israeli salad, pita, lafa, humus
- Flag dancing (coordinated dances with the Israeli flag)
- Listen to israeli songs
- Host an Israeli-style barbeque in the park
- Have a tefilla chagigit
RESOURCES AND ACTIVITIES
Israel at 72 – This booklet in simple Hebrew teaches elementary students about Israeli stamps and letter-writing and can easily be adapted for use in a virtual classroom. Written by The Lookstein Center-Instituto Bruckner.
Israeli Ministry of Education – These English resources include lesson plans, songs, games, vocabulary, and more.
Reform Judaism – These resources for both Yom Hazikaron and Yom Haatzmaut include videos, quizzes, and more to teach families about these holidays.
PJ Library – These resources for younger students include books, videos, Israeli recipes, and more.
The National Library of Israel – These lesson plans include primary sources and activity packs.
Aish – These resources include many articles and explanatory videos.
The Israel Forever Foundation – These comprehensive resources include many activities for students of all ages.
Israel Bytes by Ji Bytes – A taste of Jewish learning for kids aged 5-11 for an hour a day.
The Jewish Education Project – These resources include lesson plans and resources that build anticipation and excitement around Yom Ha’atzmaut for students and families of all ages.
The Challenge of Teaching Modern Israel – This article from The Lookstein Center’s journal, Jewish Educational Leadership, explores a new approach to Israel education.
Teaching Israel, Teaching Truth: A Personal View from the Front – This article from The Lookstein Center’s journal, Jewish Educational Leadership, discusses the importance of teaching about Israel from a place of honesty.
Megillat Ha’Atzmaut: Analysis and Comparative Analysis – This article analyzes and explores the Israeli Declaration of Independence.
State and Religion – This article explores the connections that should and should not exist between the State of Israel and religion.
VIDEOS and songs
Declaration of Independence – This video shows live footage of David Ben-Gurion declaring Israel’s independence (English subtitles).
Weird Ways Israel Won Its War of Independence – This video from Unpacked explores the unconventional military strategies utilized by the Israeli army in the War of Independence.
What is Yom Haatzamaut? – This video from Bimbam gives an overview of the holiday, its history, and its traditions.
How the State of Israel was Born – This animated video tells the story of Israeli independence.
Israeli Independence Day Songs – This playlist of Hebrew songs included many popular songs sung to celebrate Yom Haatzmaut.
Koolulam – Al Kol Eleh – This collaborative singing initiative video includes a tribute to Israel at 70.
Hebrew Kids Spotify Playlist – Get in the mood for Yom Ha’atzmaut with this fun playlist ( Submitted by Rabbi Yael Buechler of The Leffell School).
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