Yesterday (Independence Day) was just the first of four cups of independence.

Israelis and friends of Israel around the world raised a toast yesterday to celebrate the Jewish state’s 71st birthday. Yet, the precise Independence Day is today, Friday the 5th of Iyar. It was moved earlier this year due to Shabbat. (When the 5th of Iyar is on Friday, Independence Day is celebrated on the 4th of Iyar).

Moreover, the 5th of Iyar in 1948 was also a Friday. It was today at 4 p.m. that David Ben-Gurion declared independence, 71 years ago. This warrants a second toast this Friday, as if to join the celebrations on that Friday afternoon back then on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv and throughout the country.

However, the British Mandate was still in effect at the time of the Declaration of Independence. It was set to expire only about eight hours later, at midnight. 

To avoid violating Shabbat, the declaration was made in advance, on Friday afternoon. This is why the 5th of Iyar became Israel’s Independence Day. Yet, actual independence occurred only on the 6th of Iyar, which commenced at sundown, as Shabbat entered. Indeed, this warrants a third toast on Shabbat, the 6th of Iyar, Israel’s actual Independence Day. (At midnight for those wishing to be exact). 

Hence, this year, we can celebrate three days of Israeli Independence: Thursday – when observed; Friday – the precise date, and Saturday – the actual Independence Day.

But don’t fold your flags on Saturday night and put away your Israeli wine bottles just yet. There is also a fourth cup. 

Some 15 years ago, the State of Israel added a new national holiday to its calendar: Herzl Day, marking the birthday of Theodor Herzl on the 10th of Iyar, which is this coming Wednesday. Symbolically, this year it would coincide with the 15th of May, the English calendar anniversary of Israel’s actual Independence! 

On Israel’s 71st birthday and Herzl’s 159th birthday, there is a lot to celebrate. There is, of course, much to improve and lots to debate, but for four cups, Israelis can unite to admire the fulfillment of a dream, appreciate the astonishing miracle, express gratitude and say l’haim – to life! – G.K.

For more Jerusalem Post articles by Gol Kalev: Europe and Jerusalem

This article appeared in the Independence Day issue of the  Jerusalem Post Magazine, please also see cover-article of the issue: :The Jerusalem fast train vs the powerful media

Also, please see: Herzl articles

Pages from 1205 JIJ 01


Europe and Jerusalem is now on Twitter. Follow us: @europejerusalem

For inquiries and comments, please email: