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Yom Ha'atzmaut in the United States

Many Jewish Americans in the United States 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 Ha'atzmaut a Public Holiday?

This is not a public holiday in the United States. Most businesses, schools, and offices are open and follow regular hours, but Jewish-run businesses and organizations might be closed.

Israeli flags are often visible at events that celebrate Yom Ha'Atzmaut.

©iStockphoto.com/ kreicher

What Do People Do?

Many Jewish organizations, including community centers, university student groups, and some schools, organize events to celebrate Yom Ha’Atzmaut. Many of these events are open to the general public and include entertainment such as:

  • Kosher pizza dinners.
  • Singing, music and dance games or performances.
  • Face painting.
  • Flag making activities.
  • Barbecues.
  • Special rides, including camel rides.

Some Jewish communities also celebrate Israel’s Independence Day with benefit concerts featuring bands from Israel, as well as local bands. A variety of music is usually offered, ranging from traditional music with a rock twist to modern music from Israel. Various art and craft activities for children and young teenagers are also incorporated into events that celebrate Yom Ha’Atzmaut.

Public Life

Yom Ha’Atzmaut is not a federal public holiday in the United States.

Background

Many Jewish Americans 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

The most prominent symbol seen at events that celebrate Yom Ha’Atzmaut is Israel’s flag. This is 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 Ha'atzmaut in Other Countries

Read more about Yom Ha'atzmaut.

Yom Ha'atzmaut Observances

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

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday Type
2016ThuMay 12Yom Ha'atzmautJewish holiday
2017TueMay 2Yom Ha'atzmautJewish holiday
2018ThuApr 19Yom Ha'atzmautJewish holiday
2019ThuMay 9Yom Ha'atzmautJewish holiday
2020WedApr 29Yom Ha'atzmautJewish holiday
2021ThuApr 15Yom Ha'atzmautJewish holiday
2022ThuMay 5Yom Ha'atzmautJewish holiday
2023WedApr 26Yom Ha'atzmautJewish holiday
2024TueMay 14Yom Ha'atzmautJewish holiday
2025ThuMay 1Yom Ha'atzmautJewish holiday
2026WedApr 22Yom Ha'atzmautJewish 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.