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On Yom HaAtzmaut, Jewish people in the UK and worldwide celebrate Israel's national day. It commemorates the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948.
Yom Haatzmaut in the Jewish Calendar
Yom Haatzmaut is originally celebrated on the 5th day of Iyar, the second month of the Jewish calendar. However, if this date falls on a Friday or Saturday, the celebration is moved to the 3rd or 4th day of the month; if it falls on a Monday, it is observed on the 6th day of Iyar.
Is Yom HaAtzmaut a Public Holiday?
No, Yom HaAtzmaut is not a bank holiday in the UK.
How Is It Celebrated in the UK?
Jewish communities in the UK organize a wide variety of events on Yom Haatzmaut. Among them are concerts, parades, dance performances, matinee shows, and speeches.
Dance parties or club nights are also held, particularly for young adults. They are often themed in blue and white to honor the colors on Israel’s flag and feature modern pop music, both from Israel and other countries. They may include charity raffles where the proceeds go towards humanitarian or environmental causes in Israel.
Why Is Yom HaAtzmaut Celebrated?
Yom Haatzmaut commemorates when David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, publicly read Israel’s Declaration of Independence on May 14, 1948. The date corresponded to the fifth day of Iyar in the Jewish calendar.
Who Celebrates Yom HaAtzmaut in the UK?
As Israel's national holiday, Yom HaAtzmaut is primarily celebrated within the UK's Jewish communities and by Israeli nationals. However, some events are usually held in public spaces and involve a wide range of participants. As such, Yom Haatzmaut stands in contrast to many other Jewish holidays, such as Chanukah and Passover. These are usually celebrated within the country's synagogues, Jewish community centers, and homes, and therefore remain largely invisible to the general public.
The United Kingdom is estimated to have the 5th largest Jewish population in the world, with just under 300,000 people practicing the Jewish faith in the country. By far the largest British Jewish community is found in London, followed by those in Manchester and Leeds.
History of Jews in the UK
Jewish settlement in England can be traced as far back as the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066. The Jewish community outnumbered the Spanish and Portuguese communities in England by the 18th century.
Many Jewish families in Eastern Europe moved to England to escape persecution and hardship between 1881 and 1914. About 150,000 Jewish people settled in England, with large numbers staying at London's East End during that time. England continued to receive Jewish immigrants escaping persecution around the time of World War II (1939-1945).
About Yom HaAtzmaut in other countriesRead more about Yom HaAtzmaut.
Yom HaAtzmaut Observances
Note: Jewish holidays begin at sundown the day before the date specified for the holiday.
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