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Rather than celebrate Israeli independence for one day, we devote the entire month to highlighting various aspects of Israeli democracy and Israel’s quest for peace. This is also an opportunity to explain why Israel is a Jewish state and homeland of the Jewish people. The history of Israel’s struggle for independence against the British and then the Arabs can be retold. It is also a good time as well to explain Political and Practical Zionism and celebrate the founders of the state.
- Operation Ezra and Nehemia (Ali Baba) brings more than 100,000 Iraqi Jews to Israel, May 1950.
- Israel admitted to United Nations as 59th member, May 11, 1949.
- The Israel Museum in Jerusalem is founded as the country's national museum, May 11, 1949.
- Israel Declares Independence, May 14, 1948.
- Israel Defense Forces established, May 17, 1948.
- Secret airlift of 15,000 Ethiopian Jews, May 24, 1991.
Other Holidays and Anniversaries
- Cinco de Mayo, May 5
- Mother’s Day, 13
- Memorial Day, May 28
- Hold Israel Peace Week.
- Hand out copies of Israel’s Declaration of Independence; highlight its call on the Arabs to become equal citizens.
- Discuss the struggle to write a constitution, the challenges and opportunities? Also highlight similarities between rights and laws in Israel and the U.S.
- Have a model Knesset, assign students to play represent different parties.
- Debate the merits of declaring statehood in May 1948.
- Hold discussions about why Israel is a Jewish state and why Jews need their own state.
- Recall the struggle for independence versus the British.
- Reproduce the U.S. statement recognizing Israel just minutes after it was declared.
- Yom Ha-Zikaron is an opportunity to discuss the sacrifices Israelis have made to establish and defend their democracy.
- Yom Hashoah is a reminder of what happened when Jews were powerless and stateless.
- Have an Israel festival to celebrate Israel’s independence.
- Hold an all night Shavout learning session discussing the role of Israel in the Torah.
Israel Peace and Democracy Month Video