Yom Ha’atzmaut—or Israeli Independence Day—falls this year on Tuesday, May 10, and commemorates Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948. There are plenty of ways to celebrate—one of our favorites is hosting a family barbecue with Israeli foods like salad, hummus and falafel, playing Israeli music and decorating with Israeli flags. Or try these two kid-friendly ideas. (And at bedtime, read one of our recommended books about Israel below!)
This activity from the Jewish National Fund helps kids see that Israel is a melting pot with different groups of people who bring with them different customs and traditions. Start by mixing together the fruits from many places where Jewish people have lived. Add some sugar, top it off with whipped cream (Israel is the land of milk and honey!) and enjoy this special Yom Ha’atzmaut treat. (Serves about 12.)
1 orange, for Israel
1 cup of grapes, for western Europe
1 cup of cherries, for eastern Europe
1 apple, for the United States
1 banana, for Ethiopia
1/4 of a papaya, for India
1 pear, for Argentina
1/2 cup of blueberries, for Canada
2 kiwis, for Australia
1/4 cup sugar
Peel the fruits that need to be peeled and cut the larger fruit into bite-size pieces, removing any seeds. Combine all of the fruit together in a large bowl. Add the sugar and mix well to make sure each piece of fruit is coated. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let sit for 20 minutes to become syrupy. Dish out individual servings and top each one with whipped cream.
Here’s another idea from the Jewish National Fund. For most Jewish people who live outside of Israel, Jerusalem is to the east, so it’s popular to hang a decoration called a “mizrach,” which literally means “east,” on the eastern wall as a reminder of Israel.
- Colored sand
- 5×8-inch piece of thick paper (like oak tag)
- Liquid glue (like Elmer’s)
- Hole puncher
Using the pencil, have your child draw a design. (Larger shapes work better than small details.) Some suggestions: animals or plants from Israel (camels or palm trees), buildings in Jerusalem, an Israeli flag, a Hebrew word or saying. Carefully spread a thin layer of glue and shake some colored sand onto it the way you would to stick sparkles. You can make thin lines or full shapes. Do all the areas that get one color before you move on to the next. Try to let the glue dry a bit between each color. Punch a hole in each of the top corners. Tie a cord from one hole to the other. When it’s dry, hang the mizrach on your eastern wall.