Celebrating Israel’s 75th Independence Day

The Fellowship  |  April 25, 2023

People watch the military airshow during Israel's 73rd Independence Day celebrations in Saker Park in Jerusalem, April 15, 2021

At sundown on April 25, 2023, Israel will begin the 24-hour long celebration of her 75th Independence Day. Occurring on the 5th day of the Hebrew month of Iyar, and called Yom HaAtzmaut in Hebrew, Israel Independence Day is immediately preceded by Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day, a joyous celebration following a solemn one. 

After remembering those who have fallen in the service of the Jewish state, Israelis will then celebrate Israel’s 75th anniversary of their nation’s independence, which became official in 1948. This article will tell you all about how Israel won her independence, how Israelis celebrate their nation’s birth, what the Bible says about God’s people and the Promised Land, and how The Fellowship has been helping people like you stand for Israel for 40 years, like our world has never seen. 

Why We Celebrate Israel’s Birthday 

Those who stand for Israel celebrate Israel’s birthday each year on Yom HaAtzmaut in order to support the Jewish state and her people. Israel is not only the lone democracy in the Middle East, but is a nation that stands for freedom and the values of her greatest ally, the United States. We also celebrate Israel as a nation for the Jewish people—God’s chosen people who have been persecuted and oppressed throughout history, and to whom this land was promised in the Bible. From the ashes of the Holocaust and in direct fulfillment of biblical prophecy, the nation of Israel is alive and well, and on Yom HaAtzmaut, we wish her a happy birthday! 

How Israel Celebrates Independence Day 

In Israel, Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day, immediately precedes Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day. The two holidays, although very different in how they are celebrated, are linked together in spirit.  The message is simple: All Israelis owe the independence and very existence of the Jewish state to the soldiers who sacrificed their lives for it. You cannot have one day without the other. 

IDF soldiers and pedestrians stand in silence in observance of Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day.
IDF soldiers and pedestrians stand in silence in observance of Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day. Photo Credit: Edgar Asher | ISRANET

Yom Hazikaron is a somber remembrance of all the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice of their lives to help form the new nation and to keep it alive over the past 73 years, as well as all the victims of terror attacks. For 24 hours, all places of public entertainment, such as movie theaters, restaurants, and pubs, are closed. The most noticeable feature of the day is a siren which is sounded twice throughout the country, during which the entire country comes to a standstill for a two-minute moment of silence. The first siren is sounded at the beginning of Yom Hazikaron, which begins at sunset, and the second at 11 a.m. before the public recitation of prayers in the military cemeteries. 

Israelis celebrating Independence Day at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv in 2011.
Israelis celebrating Independence Day at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv in 2011.
Photo credit: Edgar Asher | ISRANET

At sundown, the celebration of Yom HaAtzmaut begins. Much like America’s Independence Day is celebrated on the 4th of July, Israel’s Independence Day features family get-togethers, barbecues, time spent outdoors, fireworks, and military flyovers (by the brave men and women of the Israel Defense Forces). It is a joyous time to celebrate the Jewish state’s birthday! 

History of Israel’s Independence 

Seventy-five years ago, on May 14, 1948, the fifth day of the month of Iyar on the Jewish calendar, Jewish leaders gathered in Tel Aviv to sign the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel—Israel’s Declaration of Independence. This extraordinary document states, “By virtue of our natural and historic right and on the strength of the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly, [we] hereby declare the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz-Israel, to be known as the State of Israel.” 

With this bold declaration, the modern state of Israel was born. And so it is that every year at this time Israel Independence Day is observed. Yom HaAtzmaut is a day of jubilation—a day for Jews to mark the re-establishment of their sovereign nation after generations of exile and to celebrate the history and accomplishments of the modern state of Israel. 

IDF military soldiers driving on the Burma Road in Israel during Israel's War of Independence.
IDF military soldiers driving on the Burma Road in Israel during Israel’s War of Independence.
Photo Credit: Benno Rothenberg | Wikimedia

In 1949, an armistice was signed, bringing an end to the Israeli War of Independence. Despite the tremendous odds favoring the Arab allies, both in terms of numbers and military might, Israel miraculously drove off the attacking enemies and thwarted their attempts to destroy the fledgling Jewish state. According to the terms of the agreement, Israel reconquered much of its land—approximately 50 percent more than had been allotted to the Jews in the UN Partition Plan. Egypt gained control of the Gaza Strip, and Jordan occupied the West Bank. 

Despite internationally guaranteed assurances to the contrary, Jordan expelled all the Jews and restricted them from visiting their holy sites in Jordanian-held land. This state of affairs continued until after the Six-Day War in 1967, when Israel regained control of the West Bank. Only then could Jews pray at the Western Wall — the last remaining vestige of the Second Temple and holiest site in Judaism — again. Only then under Jewish rule, could all religions be assured that their holy sites would receive proper treatment and that free access to these sites would be maintained. 

Biblical Prophecy: Israel’s Existence 

God says in Jeremiah 16:15, “I will restore them to the land I gave their ancestors.” There is nothing more exciting than seeing these ancient prophecies come to life today, thanks to the ongoing help of faithful friends of The Fellowship! Together, we are bringing the remnants of Israel from the “four corners of the earth” home to the Holy Land! New immigrants come from all over the world, many of them facing insurmountable challenges like violent anti-Semitism and persecution, economic crisis, and poverty. In the past year, we have brough 4,600 Ukrainian Jews to Israel, out of the warzone in their native country. Now, they are safe in their biblical and historic homeland, Israel. 

And our help doesn’t stop with a plane ticket. We help with klitah (settlement), making sure that each new olim (immigrant) in Israel has what they need to become a productive citizen of the Holy Land by offering job and Hebrew language training, basic needs and housing, and dedicated social workers to help them navigate their new life in Israel! 

The Official Date of Israel’s Independence Day 

On May 14, 1948, after the last of the British forces left Palestine, David Ben-Gurion declared the creation of the state of Israel. The new state was recognized immediately by U.S. President Harry S. Truman and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. The neighboring Arab countries — Egypt, TransJordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq — immediately rejected the state and declared war, adding the forces of actual countries to what had previously been only a “civil” war in Palestine between Arabs and Jews. 

While Israel’s Arab neighbors reacted with hostility to the founding of the Jewish state, the U.S. became the first nation to recognize Israel. It is instructive to remember that the man primarily responsible for this was a devoted Christian—President Harry S. Truman. 

David Ben-Gurion reads Israel's Declaration of Independence, May 14, 1948
David Ben Gurion reading Israel’s declaration of Independence on May 14, 1948.
Photo Credit: Rudi Weissenstein | Wikimedia

In Truman’s administration, there were those who spoke forcefully against U.S. recognition of the new Jewish state, saying, “There are thirty million Arabs on one side and about six hundred thousand Jews on the other. It is clear that in any contest, the Arabs are going to overwhelm the Jews. Why don’t you face up to the realities? Just look at the numbers!” As far as the right of Israel to exist was concerned, Truman was unimpressed by “the numbers.” To this day, the United States stands with its greatest ally, Israel, as it has for the past 75 years. 

And as the day that occurred on fell on the fifth day of the Hebrew month of Iyar, Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel Independence Day has been celebrated on this date for the past 75 years, although it can be moved forward or backward by a day or two, so as not to fall on Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath. 

The Fellowship’s 40th Anniversary 

As Israel celebrates her 75th anniversary this year, The Fellowship is also celebrating a milestone — 40 years of our ministry! For 40 years, The Fellowship has been the leading ministry blessing Israel and the Jewish people with humanitarian care and lifesaving aid. Together, we have been able to provide food and warmth, safety and security, and a way home to Israel for Jews suffering from poverty and persecution. Fulfilling God’s Word — like our world has never seen. 

IFCJ's 40th Anniversary and IFCJ Logo

Founded in 1983 by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, of blessed memory, The Fellowship has been a leader in Jewish-Christian relations, building bridges of goodwill that have led to greater understanding and cooperation between members of these two great faiths. The Fellowship has helped hundreds of thousands of Jews escape poverty and anti-Semitism and return to their biblical homeland, funded humanitarian assistance that has touched the lives of millions of Jews in Israel and around the world, and provided life-giving aid to Israel’s victims of war and terror. Since Rabbi Eckstein’s passing in 2019, his Israel-based daughter Yael serves as President and CEO of The Fellowship, oversees all ministry programs, and serves as the international spokesperson. 

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