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Israel's Independence Day is here, and you're thinking about how to celebrate. That's what good Jews do. They think about what to do for a holiday. You have that love of Israel and love vacationing at the Dead Sea. How can you share in the celebration?
There are many ways to celebrate as an Israeli. Last year, we focused on the Mangal, known as the Israeli BBQ that comes in tiny matchbox form. You walked away from last Yom HaAtzmaut hungry, due to the size of the grates and your solidarity with the tininess of Israel. This year, we will focus on other ways to celebrate the Chag.
You just dunked your food in it, for Pesach. Now, dunk your body in it. Pour salt in your bathtub, to share in the Dead Sea experience. Better yet, pour salt straight on your wound, and you will feel like you were there.
If you had canker sores at the Seder, you have already shown your commitment to the Holy Land.
Go to the Park
The tradition is to go to the park, see there are no spots for your Mangal, and then to go back to your house.
Play Football on a Basketball Court
Whatever you call it, you'll see this at the park in Israel. A soccer pitch on a basketball court. I'm still trying to figure out why every basketball court in Israel has football goals. Maybe there are extra points if the ball goes through the hoop and then into the goal.
Take your soccer ball and start kicking it in the middle of a basketball game, and you will bring a Yom HaAtzmaut experience to all on that court. If a fight starts, you will enjoy the full Israel experience of athletics.
No Israeli goes to work on Yom HaAtzmaut, or Wednesdays. Not working is a tradition in the Holy Land, as we have belief (Emunah). As Rabbi Chanina teaches (Berachot 33b), 'Everything is in the hands of God.' People who don't believe that, work. And all employees at the post office have a strong connection with the Lord.
Wave Israeli Flags
Flag waving is a huge part of the holiday in Israel. Wave the flag with pride and make your good morning greeting political.
If you live outside of Israel, buy an Israeli flag for your car and hang it out of your window. You will know you're celebrating correctly if you get beeped at. If people stop yelling at you in disgust, check to make sure your flag is still there.
If you're worried about being attacked, and have not been showing up to your self-defence Krav Maga lessons, join a parade. There's safety in numbers. There is a reason why thousands of people meet up on the streets of New York to show their support of Israel. It's for safety.
Sit in Traffic
You can connect with the day of no work in the country, the inter-city travel of every citizen and the parades, by finding the longest traffic light in your city at rush-hour.
Go a step further by stopping your car and causing traffic yourself. This will encourage other people to beep, making you feel like you are in Israel proper.
The hop, skip, twirl, arm raise, reverse hop, skip, twirl, arm raise. There is nothing like it. Nothing says love of Israel more than doing your dance, and then skipping right back to your original position. Do that with a circle, and you have community.
Join towns and cities all over Israel and skip to a Hebrew you song. Better yet, hop and twirl with your supinated arm raise to a Spanish song. Spanish is how Israelis celebrate their independence.
For A Relaxing Yom HaAtzmaut- Leave your Kids at Home
I've seen way too many soccer balls, from basketball games, land in BBQs for any parent to enjoy their holiday. And I've never seen a parent smile when serving their child a $22 steak.
If you make a mistake and bring your children along to the park, distance yourself from them. However, be responsible and keep them within eyeshot. You might want to bring something with a scope on it, to show you're a responsible parent.
Shpritz People With Stuff
Getting hit by shaving cream is my tradition. If I remember correctly, I spent many Yom HaAtzmaut wearing a decent shirt, getting sprayed with shaving cream and yelling at kids.
Shpritzing people seems to be fun for the kids of Israel, and not very fun for the grownups who get hit by it. How the children all have shaving cream has something to do with how quickly the people of the Middle East hit puberty. I saw one kindergartener in Israel with a beard. He might have got left back. However, he was tiny and still couldn't trace an Aleph very well.
The real tradition accepted by all is to yell at the kids.
If you're a heretic, like myself, you do this. Praising God is the least religious thing you can do on the Holiday. The religious people will explain this.
Vote Day is the only day more joyous on the Israeli calendar than Yom HaAtzmaut, as it shows Israeli pride, independence, and it's a day off of work. The only problem is that everything is closed on Vote Day, because those people have off work too. Anyhow, celebrate it.
Israelis love Vote Day, which is why we do it so much.
Falafel is the American way to celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut, so they can feel like they're in Israel. Israelis celebrate with a BBQ, so they can feel like they're not in Israel. It's a vacation day.
Note: Not all falafel is Israeli falafel. As an American-Israeli, I've had the Yom HaAtzmaut US falafel, and it helped me fulfil the Israeli tradition of feeling like I am not in Israel.
If you follow through with these suggestions and do it at the park, you will have a very Israeli Yom HaAtzmaut. As long as you Mangal, and show your independence through dead animals on a tiny grill.
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The Falafel of Etan
Israelis are very possessive of their falafel. Even when they have a shop, they don't like to share it… That's Etan. Standing over them while they eat. Making sure they don't run away with his falafel.