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Every year, Israelis and Jews worldwide come together to commemorate and celebrate two important days on the Jewish calendar: Yom HaZikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut. Yom HaZikaron is Israel’s Memorial Day to remember those who lost their lives fighting for the establishment of the State of Israel and all military personnel killed in active duty. Yom Ha’atzmaut is Israeli Independence Day and marks the official date when the modern State of Israel was established.
- Yom HaZikaron begins at sundown on Tuesday, May 3, and ends at sunset on Wednesday, May 4.
- Yom Ha’atzmaut proceeds Yom HaZikaron and begins at sundown on Wednesday, May 4, and ends at sunset on Thursday, May 5.
During these days, we remember the sacrifice of our soldiers over the last decades, and we celebrate the triumph that is the State of Israel. Take our Yom Ha’atzmaut quiz to find out how much you know about Israeli Independence Day!
Birthright Israel’s Connection to Israel & Israelis
On each Birthright Israel journey, young Jews are joined by Israeli IDF soldiers or young Israeli professionals. This program element is called the Mifgash, “to encounter,” and it is one of the most transformational aspects of each trip. The Israeli participants deliver an intimate and highly personal dynamic that enables Diaspora participants to explore and understand complex issues. Many Israeli participants join the trip for five to ten days allowing friendships to be formed that last forever.
Israeli participants also gain a better understanding of the people they are fighting for. “When you are a soldier, you understand the importance of your job to defend the home front, your friends, and your country,” said an unnamed Mifgash. “My shared journey with Jewish friends from throughout the world strengthened me and helped me understand, in a deep and meaningful way, that what I am doing here is for the benefit of all the Jewish people.”
What Israeli Participants Say About Their Birthright Israel Experience
“On the way to Jerusalem, one of the Americans told me that he was the first in his family to go to our destination. He said his grandmother, a Holocaust survivor, gave him a note to put in the Kotel. I think that’s when I started to realize the importance of the trip—that all the places that I, as an Israeli, had taken for granted were, for other people, places of inspiration. From that moment on, I started to see Israel through their eyes.”
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Niran’s Experience →
“My big gift from Birthright Israel is the people. Thanks to the conversations we had, the questions we asked, and the openness we eventually created. When we were on Mount Herzl and I stood there as an Israeli soldier in uniform, and they were feeling the emotions of the place together with me, we all already felt the “togetherness” that was created.”
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Adi’s Experience →
“Birthright Israel is not merely a 10-day trip. Instead, it brings Jewish people from all over the world to realize that they have a family to which they belong. Birthright Israel is about understanding that Israel is a place where we can all connect and where Jewish people from all over the world will always have a warm place. And as for me, my experience made me realize that there is a bigger family and purpose to which I contribute as an Israeli.”
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Shavit’s Experience →
The Continued Impact of Israelis On Birthright Israel
Birthright Israel continues to see the impact of including Israeli with Diaspora participants on each trip. Below are just a few statistics that highlight this critical element of the program.
The Mifgash “Encounter”
- 78% felt “very strongly” that the program strengthened the importance of their army service.
- 83% felt that Birthright Israel contributed to their understanding of Jewish life in the Diaspora.
- 88% reported that it is “extremely” important to continue the Birthright Israel program
- 95% were extremely happy with the program.
- 115,000 young Israelis have participated in being a Mifgash.