Creative Ways to Celebrate Israel with Fun Yom Ha’atzmaut Activities
Israel declared independence on May 14th, 1948. Celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut, known in English as Israel Independence day, with a host of fun activities. Journey to Israel, metaphorically speaking, and “visit” key locales like Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, the Dead Sea, and spend time on a Kibbutz. We’ve created some really fun Yom Ha’atzmaut activities for you to do in each of these places.
Jerusalem: Visit the Western Wall
Journey to Jerusalem, Israel’s capital city, and venture over to the Western Wall, also called the Wailing Wall, which is one of the holiest sites in the world. That’s because it is only the only remaining retaining wall of the First and Second Temple, both of which were destroyed, in 586 BCE and 70 AD, respectively.
It is common practice to place slips of paper containing written prayers to God into the cracks of the Western Wall. Over a million of these handwritten prayers are placed in the wall annually. And, if you can’t travel to Israel yourself but know of someone going there, you can give them the note to put in the Western Wall for you.
To celebrate Jerusalem on Yom Ha’atzmaut, your family or classroom students can create y a version of the western wall from a piece of carboard. Draw bricks on your wall with a sharpie to make it look a little bit more like the beautiful Jerusalem stone the Western Wall is actually made out of. Then, you can tape your prayer to the cardboard wall or use a scissors/knife to cut holes into the wall for kids or students to place their prayer inside.
Tel Aviv: Eat Traditional Israeli Foods
Tel Aviv is a vibrant, metropolitan city along the Mediterranean coast. Locals and tourists alike sit outside at restaurants on its famed promenade and eat delicious Israeli cuisine. And while we might not have the Mediterranean shore directly next to us as we eat Israeli salad, hummus, pita, or falafel, we too can enjoy popular Israeli food for Yom Ha’atzmaut. You can order from a local restaurant or make this delicious food at home!
Dead Sea: Salt Water and Egg Experiment
The Dead Sea, the landlocked body of water between Israel and Jordan, has a couple of astounding claims to fame. It is not only the lowest point on Earth at 423 meters below sea level, but it is also one of the saltiest bodies of water on Earth. These incredibly high salt levels mean that people can float on its surface.
Let’s travel to the Dead Sea and learn how exactly such high salt content can cause someone or something to float. There is a popular science experiment, the Floating Egg, that shows us exactly what happens when an object is less dense than the water around it.
Fill a large bowl halfway with fresh water (tap water). Place an egg into the bowl. It will immediately sink because the fresh water is less dense than the egg. Now, take the egg out of the bowl and add a significant amount of salt into the bowl of water. Place the egg into the bowl one more time and watch as the egg now floats along the surface. For more detailed instructions, check out the Floating Egg experiment on Scientific American.
Life on a Kibbutz: Race Your Friends and Classmates
A kibbutz is a collective community of people. The first Kibbutz, Degania, was established in 1909 by a group of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. In the early years, members worked primarily in agriculture. There was a large emphasis placed on equality and all money and assets were managed collectively. Kibbutz members ate together in a communal dining hall, and shared responsibilities related to education, childcare, etc. Today, there are about 250 kibbutzim (plural of kibbutz) in Israel and daily life has evolved with time. While there is still an emphasis on community, members have the ability to make more decisions at their discretion.
To get a taste of that agricultural kibbutz experience on Yom Haatzmaut, we can milk a cow. And what makes the idea of milking slightly more enticing? When it’s a race, of course!
I advise you to actually use water for this Yom Ha’atzmaut activity. You’ll also need some latex gloves, a small scissors or a needle, and two water pitchers. Fill up two latex gloves with water and tie the open end of the glove so that it holds the liquid without spilling. Inevitably it will though, so make sure to do this race outside as water gets everywhere!
Divide kids into two teams. When you’re race ready, take a small scissors or needle and make small pin holes in the tips of the fingers of the gloves. Depending on the thickness of your gloves, you may need to stretch the hole a bit. Kids stand in two straight lines. They have about 10 seconds to milk the cow, one on each team for a total of two at a time, as fast as they can. Whichever team fills up the water pitcher higher after time expires or reaches the designated line on a measuring cup first, is the winner!
Virtual Yom Ha’atzmaut Activities
Watch Israeli TV Shows on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, or HBO
Over the past couple of years, Israeli TV shows have surged in popularity around the globe as incredible shows like Schtisel, Fauda, and Srugim have become available to watch on streaming platforms. If you have not watched any of those shows, block off your Google calendar and spend the night celebrating Yom Ha’atzmaut with any one of the best Israeli TV shows available for streaming right now. We’ve got a full breakdown for you of all of the shows, so you can choose one that best suits your taste.
Schedule a Trip to Israel Using Travel Booking Platforms
If you can’t be in person to celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut, “plan a trip” to Israel over Zoom instead! I did this with my students last year, and they had a lot of fun building their travel itinerary. Once you have your travel dates nailed down, use Google Flights to determine which flight makes the most sense for you to take. You’ll need to consider factors like how many layovers the flight has, flight duration, and of course, price.
You’ll also need to book a hotel, so go to TripAdvisor and read reviews and look at photos to decide which accommodation will suit your needs best. What amenities are important to you? Do you want a rooftop pool? For me, a complimentary Israeli breakfast is number one.
And then you’ll have to figure out daily activities. Are there any tours you want to take? What are the “must see” sights that are not to be missed? I also use TripAdvisor to look up the Top Things To Do in each major city that I will be “visiting.” You can even design your own Trip Itinerary using a Google Doc or Canva Template!
Bake an Israeli Flag Cake
Bake your favorite homemade cake in a large, rectangular pan. It doesn’t matter what flavor of cake you choose — funfetti, chocolate, vanilla or even something more unique — but you will need to either purchase white and blue frosting or make your own buttercream frosting to spread atop and around the cake. If you make buttercream, don’t forget the blue gel-based food color for the star and stripes. After the cake is done, light some candles on it for Israel’s birthday and sing Happy Birthday in Hebrew!
Did you enjoy this list of Yom Ha’atzmaut activities? What have you done to celebrate Israel Independence Day? Let us know in the comments below! And, if you are looking for more holiday content, make sure to check out these other BMA blog posts.