by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths
Israel Independence Day, which was celebrated today, involves much trickier waters – hard for an immigrant or outsider to understand and navigate. Here’s your guide for the future
The Average Secular Israeli – Appreciates the day and the history of their country which their grandparents fought for and built. Usually a bit patriotic. You wish him/her “Yom Atzmaut Samayach – Happy Independence Day”. They are probably bbq’ing in a park and fill the State parks, or may be visiting one of the many army bases open for tours (we went to an air force base one year – very cool). They may adorn their home and car with Israeli flags.
The Leftist Secular Israeli – Is happy for the day off but is ambivalent about the existence of his/her country. May have been in the army and fought for their country, but believes some of their own propaganda about Israel’s existence not being fair to the Palestinians. Even as they praise Israel they’ll add a “but…”. You wish him/her “Yom Kef – a nice day off”. He or she will be having an existential conflict while stopping for some sushi. He/she used to put up flags, but now thinks it might represent something not so good…so doesn’t anymore.
The National Religious Israeli – This is a holy day representing the fulfillment of prophecy in the ingathering of the Jews and the re-establishment of a State of the Jewish People in the Holy Land. He will have a special prayer service today including singing praises to G-d (Hallel). You wish him/her “Chag Samayach – Happy Holy-Day”. He/her and their family may be touring sites of special religious and cultural/historical significance today…as well as doing a bbq while on the trip. He/she has flags on their car and home, and school.
The Extreme Ultra-Orthodox Israeli – Since Israel calls itself by the biblical name and is a state started by Jews, but does operate solely by Jewish religious law, and did not arrive together with the arrival of Moshiach (the Messiah), it is not appropriate for it to be. He/she will ignore independence day, operate their school or business if possible (they can be fined for doing this, so may not to avoid the fine), and will certainly not do anything with their family on this day…unless there is a community protest against the State of Israel – that’s an event they will attend. You don’t wish him or her anything for this day or they will give you a speech about how that’s inappropriate. He may request flags to be removed from his neighborhood, or even in some cases tear them down.
The Moderate Ultra-Orthodox Israeli – Appreciates the day and the State of Israel which enables a Jewish oriented society and facilitates the operation of many Jewish religious facilities. But his religious leadership didn’t agree in the past, and therefore can’t stand against the extremists today. Therefore he’ll send his children to school if the school is open and won’t put up a flag. If he’s wished a “Yom Atzmaut Samayach – Happy Independence Day or a Chag Samayach – Happy Holy-Day”, he’ll look around for any extremists before responding with a quiet nod or a “you too”. If he holds a bbq today, and he might, he’ll tell people “it’s just because I have the day off and the kids are home.”
The Moderate Arab/Bedouin/Druze Israeli – Appreciates the day off and living in a stable country with a decent economy. Feels they don’t have a part of the day, and those who do actively contribute to Israel are drowned out by politicians and rhetoric against Israel, leaving them ambivalent about the day. You don’t wish them anything in case their extremists are near by, or at most a “Yom Kef – a nice day off”.
The Extreme Arab Israel – This is a day of protest in preparation for “Nakba Day – the Day of the Catastrophe”, which is aligned with the secular calendar date of the Israeli declaration of independence. They will hold a protest day, shout about the catastrophe, and burn some Israeli flags. You don’t wish them anything, as they’re not talking to you Jew.
In Israel it’s never simple.