Yom HaZikaron | May 11, 2016
The Israeli Knesset established the day before Yom HaAtzmaut, as a Memorial Day for soldiers who lost their lives fighting in the War of Independence and in other subsequent battled.
It begins with an official ceremony at the Western Wall, as the flag of Israel is lowered to half staff. Places of entertainment are closed for the day by law. Radio and television stations play programs about Israel's wars and show programming that conveys the somber mood of the day.
As on Yom HaShoah, an air raid siren is played twice during Yom HaZikaron. When the siren is heard, all activity, including traffic, immediately stops. People get out of their cars and stand at attention in memory of those who died defending Israel. The first siren marks the beginning of Memorial Day and the second is sounded immediately prior to the public recitation of prayers in military cemeteries.
Yom Ha'atzmaut | May 12, 2016
Yom HaAtzmaut, Israeli Independence Day, marks the establishment of the modern state of Israel in 1948. It is observed on or near the 5th of Iyar in the Hebrew calendar, which usually falls in April.
On May 14, 1948, soon-to-be Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion issued a declaration of the State of Israel. It was recognized by the U.S., the Soviet Union and other countries, though not by the surrounding Arab states.
On the evening of the holiday, celebrants and officials gather at Mount Herzl, Jerusalem. A ceremony with speeches and a parade of soldiers concludes with the lighting of twelve torches, representing the twelve Tribes of Israel.
Families celebrate with picnics and barbecues, singing and dancing in the streets the night before, and the display of Israeli flags everywhere.