Israel is marking its 73rd Independence Day this week, kicking off celebrations Wednesday evening and into Thursday when Israelis – a majority of those 16 years old and over already vaccinated against COVID-19 – will likely take to the outdoors for the annual barbeque fest.
After more than a year of pared-down or nonexistent events, Israelis are ready to get back to traditional holiday gatherings. This year, outdoor concerts, picnics, parades, and trips into national parks are all on the agenda. And municipalities across the country also had the choice to stage larger shows and celebrations or go for quieter events, like light shows and headphone parties.
But even as Israel inches towards a post-pandemic lifestyle, Israelis who choose to do so will still be able to practice social distancing thanks to numerous online programming and virtual events.
Cultural institutions, museums, and national heritage sites, meanwhile, are offering exhibits, tours, workshops, and shows to visit. Many of them are offering classes, concerts, sing-alongs, and activities for the entire family.
NoCamels highlights some of the more unique events taking place this holiday, virtually and in-person:
Israelina exhibit at Israel Museum
On the eve of Israel’s 73rd Independence Day, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem is inviting the public to journey through Israel’s first few decades with a special exhibit showcasing the decorative household items and souvenirs whose designs reflected the hopeful mindset of the country’s earliest citizens.
While for many years these “made in Eretz Israel” objects were not considered to be of artistic value, this status has recently shifted with a burst of nostalgia, the Israel Museum said.
A display of selected objects representing the genre is currently on display in the Museum’s Jewish Art and Life Wing.
“While many of these items could be dismissed as kitsch, when you look at these pieces in a broader sense, we can learn a lot about the time,” says Sharon Weiser-Ferguson, curator of the exhibit.
She notes that Jewish symbols, like the 12 tribes of Israel, appeared on various items (candlesticks, menorahs) from the 50s and 60s which were typically found in Israeli homes but were never deemed significant.
“You could look at them now and see that they had special meaning — they emphasized a strong connection of the people to the land,” she tells NoCamels.
Items had both religious and modern Zionist motifs such as biblical figures or agricultural laborers working in the field.
A number of objects were made to look older and given a green hue reminiscent of patina — made to look like vessels uncovered in archaeological sites, Weiser-Ferguson says. Even the material used to create these items can teach us a lot about the economy in Israel at the time, she tells NoCamels. “Many of the items were made of alloy, a simple material made from a combination of metals.”
The majority of the objects displayed were presented to the museum as gifts from the Tenenbaum family collection. Rivka and Zvi Tenenbaum donated the objects in memory of their son Yadin Tenenbaum, who fell in the Yom Kippur War. The objects will be displayed in the Museum until the end of the year.
The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, +972-2-6708811, https://www.imj.org.il/en/
Fashion Tours from Fashionating by Liri
The social enterprise Fashionating by Liri was created by Liraz Cohen Mordechai as a way to “tell the story of Israel from a new perspective.”
“I think fashion is a really cool angle, to learn about the different identities within the country and the culture,” she tells NoCamels
Cohen Mordechai’s extensive experience in fashion ranges from managing the Training and Development department of Zara Israel to graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a Masters in Global Fashion Industry to leading extended Birthright trips solely focused on fashion in Israel. She has also given numerous fashion lectures across the US and Canada and spoken at over 50 universities and at conferences like AIPAC and BBYO.
Soon, extended trips focused on fashion with Birthright participants turned into specially curated fashion trips with tourists from North America. Cohen Mordechai led some 20 trips with over 400 participants every year. But then COVID-19 hit.
“I thought to myself what would be the closest experience that they could get to feel like they could be physically in Tel Aviv with me doing the tour,” she explains.
With a production team in tow, Cohen Mordechai traveled to various studios and shops and talked with Israeli designers about their creations and inspiration.
One of the virtual tours that Cohen Mordechai has put together is the Social Impact Through Art and Fashion Tour. In this unique experience, viewers virtually meet Israeli artists and designers who are dedicated to helping minorities in Israel in order to get to know how “fashion and art can be a tool for change.”
Some of the places viewers will visit include Kite Pride, a Tel Aviv-based social enterprise where functional, one-of-a-kind bags are created from upcycled kite surfing kites, sails, parachutes, and wetsuits by survivors of human traffickers; Kuchinate, an African refugee women’s collective that designs and creates fashion products such as baskets, rugs, and even face masks; and Desert Embroidery, a program that employs Bedouin women in Lakia and the surrounding areas through the creation of fashion products.
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Participants have the option of receiving Israeli Impact Kits as gifts. The kits include a Kuchinate candle and recycled paper notebook embellished with Bedouin hand embroidery inside a pencil case made from upcycled kites.
Cohen Mordechai also offers other tours and presentations including one focused on 73 Years of Israeli Fashion and another on the He(ART) of Israel, where participants go back in time to the early days and look at the Startup Nation as it was being created.
Fashionating by Liri, + 972-52-525-8989 (Israel), +1 919-491-0152 (US), https://www.fashionatingbyliri.com, email@example.com
The leading Israeli culinary tour and experience provider Delicious Israel has launched online cocktail classes where guests can learn how to make the perfect drinks to celebrate Israel’s Independence Day (and other occasions). Mixologists guide viewers virtually through the process of creating sophisticated drinks with creative Israeli twists.
All classes are interactive and live on Zoom, with an intimate and relaxed feel for a virtual gathering with friends, a bachelor/ette or bridal party, or a company happy hour.
“There is nothing more special than celebrating sweet, dear Israel’s birthday,” Delicious Israel founder Inbal Baum tells NoCamels. “Israelis always love a good excuse to party, and this year that feeling is thick in the air. Making cocktails (or food) with us across the planet, can help bring those flavors and vibe from our party to yours.”
Fun cocktails (and non-alcoholic mocktails) to make include Spicy Schug Margarita, Land of Milk and Honey Old-Fashioned, Moroccan Mint Mojito, Bamba-tini, and Pomegranate Arak Splash.
Delicious Israel Cocktail Kits are available for delivery when booking for 20 or more screens.
Delicious Israel, +972 525 699 499, https://www.deliciousisrael.com/, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ben Gurion Desert Home
The home of the man who led the establishment of the State of Israel and later became its first prime minister might just be one of the most meaningful places to spend Israel’s 73rd Independence Day. It doesn’t hurt that the home is in a kibbutz in the heart of the desert, giving way to the ideology promoted by David Ben-Gurion that Israel’s future is in the Negev.
A visit to Ben-Gurion’s hut, his home in the remainder of his life after public service, is a great way to educate children about the establishment of the state of Israel. On Independence Day, 48 different puzzles and riddles related to Zionism, the establishment of the state, the Negev, and more will be scattered throughout the house. Questions that will be asked include what year Ben-Gurion immigrated to Israel, what year the IDF was established.
Those who answer at least 10 questions correctly will receive a special copy of the Israeli Declaration of Independence and be able to sign it alongside 37 of the original signatories, including Golda Meir and Yitzhak Ben Zvi.
Also in the home is an exhibition that features interactions Ben-Gurion had with the Israeli public in an interactive and lighthearted way.
Ben Gurion’s Hut, +972-73-782-4559, https://www.ben-gurion.co.il/en/
73 National Heritage Sites
On Independence Day, the Israeli Ministry of Culture and Sport and the Council for Conservation of Heritage Sites in Israel will open 73 heritage sites that tell the story of the country over a timeline.
Sites range from the Yoav Fortress and Haggadah Amit in the south to the Tower of David Museum and Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem and surrounding areas to the Tel Hai courtyard and the Palmach Cave in the north.
Visitors can expect weapons displays, historical souvenirs, authentic clothing items, antiques, armored vehicles, audio-visual performances, quizzes, and games, photo corners, folk dance circles and much more at many of the sites. Admission is free.
Visit the official website of the Council for Conservation of Heritage Sites (Hebrew) for a list of heritage sites.
Independence celebrations at Agnon House
The Agnon House in Jerusalem, a National Heritage site dedicated to the work of writer SY Agnon, the 1966 Nobel Prize laureate in literature, will open its doors on Independence Day in a salute to the beloved children’s books that have shaped the country.
Jerusalem actors, illustrators and artists will gather together to read and sing Hebrew stories from SY Agnon and other authors including Nurit Zarchi. There will also be a special meeting with writers and illustrators who will discuss the process of producing a children’s story, a children’s show and art stations, illustrations, and comics.
The event will open with guided tours that follow Agnon’s sources of inspiration, with an emphasis on his attitude toward the country on the way. Afterwards, there will be a meeting and creative workshop with children’s author Orit Bergman. At the end of the workshop, the audience will be invited to watch a children’s performance “Toto and Friends” by the Train Theater of Jerusalem.
At the end of the day, visitors will gather in circles to read and discuss the Independence Day Haggadah and talk about the meaning of the holiday in 2021. The Israel Independence Day Haggadah was created by the IDF Information Division in 1952 to distinguish the holiday from the rest of the year and establish a more traditional format.
Agnon House, +972-2-6716498, https://agnonhouse.org.il/, email@example.com