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Yom HaAtzmaut in Australia

Many Jewish Australians remember Israel’s Independence Day, also known as Yom Ha’Atzmaut (or Yom HaAtzmaut). Celebrations are annually held on or around the fifth day of the month of Iyar, according to the Jewish calendar.

Is Yom HaAtzmaut a Public Holiday?

Yom HaAtzmaut is not a public holiday. Businesses have normal opening hours.

The flag of Israel is often seen at Yom Ha'Atzmaut celebrations.

©iStockphoto.com/Lior Filshteiner

What Do People Do?

Some Jewish families may say special prayers in remembrance of Yom Ha’Atzmaut. Some schools may have learning activities for students to understand what Yom Ha’Atzmaut is about. It is customary in some Jewish schools for children to come to school dressed in blue and white, which are the colors of the Israeli flag.

Concerts to celebrate Yom Ha’Atzmaut have been held in cities such as Melbourne and Perth in recent years. These concerts featured local Jewish talent as well as international music stars originally from Israel. Some evangelical Christians in Australia have also celebrated Yom Ha’Atzmaut in the past to show their support to Jewish communities and to Israel. This has brought about mixed reactions, including both criticism and support.

Public Life

Yom Ha’Atzmaut is not a public holiday in Australia.

Background

Many Jewish people in Australia celebrate Israel’s independence on Yom Ha’Atzmaut. It commemorates when David Ben-Gurion, who was Israel’s first prime minister, publicly read the Israel’s Declaration of Independence on May 14, 1948. According to the Jewish calendar, this was the fifth day of Iyar, the eighth month of the civil year, in the year 5708.

According to the Jewish calendar, the fifth day of the month of Iyar cannot fall on a Sunday. If this date falls on a Friday or Saturday, Yom Ha'Atzmaut is observed on the third or fourth day of the month. If the date falls on a Monday, it is observed on the sixth day of Iyar. This is so that the festivities do not fall just before, on, or just after the Sabbath.

Symbols

Israel’s flag is often the most prominent symbol seen at events that celebrate Yom Ha’Atzmaut. This flag comes in the shape of a white rectangle in the ratio 11:8 with two horizontal blue stripes, one at the top and one at the bottom. A regular hexagram, known as the Star of David, or Megan David, is depicted in blue between the stripes.

Jewish Holidays Last Longer Outside of Israel

In the Jewish diaspora—Jewish communities outside of Israel—an extra day is usually added to religious observances, with the exception of Yom Kippur, which lasts only one day worldwide, and Rosh Hashana, which is celebrated over two days in both Israel and the diaspora.

This custom has its roots in ancient times when the beginning of the months in the Jewish calendar still relied on the sighting of the crescent Moon following a New Moon.

The beginning of a new month was determined by the Sanhedrin, the supreme court of ancient Israel in Jerusalem. Once the date was published, messengers were dispatched to spread the news among Jews living abroad. Since this process took some time, it was decreed that Jews outside of ancient Israel were to observe every holiday for 2 days to make sure that the rules and customs applicable to each holiday were observed on the proper date. This rule is still observed today.

About Yom HaAtzmaut in Other Countries

Read more about Yom HaAtzmaut.

Yom HaAtzmaut Observances

Note: Jewish holidays begin at sundown the day before the date specified for the holiday.

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday Type
2017TueMay 2Yom HaAtzmautJewish holiday
2018ThuApr 19Yom HaAtzmautJewish holiday
2019ThuMay 9Yom HaAtzmautJewish holiday
2020WedApr 29Yom HaAtzmautJewish holiday
2021ThuApr 15Yom HaAtzmautJewish holiday
2022ThuMay 5Yom HaAtzmautJewish holiday
2023WedApr 26Yom HaAtzmautJewish holiday
2024TueMay 14Yom HaAtzmautJewish holiday
2025ThuMay 1Yom HaAtzmautJewish holiday
2026WedApr 22Yom HaAtzmautJewish holiday
2027WedMay 12Yom HaAtzmautJewish holiday

While we diligently research and update our holiday dates, some of the information in the table above may be preliminary. If you find an error, please let us know.