Yesterday was Yom HaAtzmaut, Independence Day, and although I have been living in Israel for almost 14 years, I still am completely amazed every Independence Day at the vitality, the excitement, and the strength of this country. No one who watched the opening festivities from Mount Herzl could fail to be moved.
Most Israelis make sure that on Yom HaAtzmaut they get enough meat “al haEsh” – on the grill- to up their hemoglobin for the year. People get together with family and friends to barbecue together. Now in Israel, barbecue has not quite gotten to the level of sophistication that it has in the US. Here the process is 1. Buy briquets. 2. Soak them in at least half a can of charcoal lighter fluid 3. Light 4. Fan (often with electric fans, but sometimes with large paddle-like devices) 5. Add more charcoal lighter 6. Repeat 4 and 5 many many times.
Our family got together yesterday morning for a champagne brunch in the nearby park. We had bagels and lox and cream cheese and cut up veggies and a number of different soft drinks and “milkies” for the children (chocolate pudding in a cup with a whipped topping), chocolate cake for the adults and, um, no champagne.
The children threw frisbees, juggled, climbed trees, and played twister. The little children were treated to rides in a cart attached to the back of a bicycle. My son-in-law enjoys taking his three young children for rides– one on the back of the bike and two in the cart behind it. My oldest granddaughter, Hadas, had lines of little children (most of her cousins under the age of 7 or so) waiting for her to take them on short rides in the park. After a while, her cousin Tzvi gave it a try too. It was an enjoyable day.
In the evening, my daughter Rachel invited us and others to her home for a traditional barbecue. Fortunately, she and her husband are acquainted with better fire starting methods.
She was, as always, gracious and the food was excellent!
I don’t know a way to describe the day to Americans. It’s the way the 4th of July was meant to be. If you saw the movie “Avalon,” you might remember the colored lights and fireworks on the 4th of July in that film. It feels like that– an indescribable feeling.
Happy Birthday Israel! Happy Birthday to the people of Israel, Jews around the world, and ALL who wish her well.