Menu JTA Search

Fireworks, Street Dancing Mark Anniversary Celebration in Israel

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

Israel tonight started its biggest, most Joyous celebration of the year, the festival marking the 12th anniversary of the rebirth of the State which came officially into being in May, 1948, when David Ben-Gurion read Israel’s Declaration of Independence in a museum here.

One minute after a torch was lighted at sundown a top Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem, thousands of fireworks flared into the skies over the beach at Tel Aviv. Throughout the country, other torches were ablaze after Kaddish Luz, speaker of the Israel Parliament, sparked the formal opening of the celebration in Jerusalem.

In Tel Aviv, 4,000 members of youth organizations started a mass dance which wound its way through the city’s streets, pulling passers-by into the procession. In every city square and at countless other places, special stages had been erected for folk dancing and entertainments. Millions of electric light bulbs flashed greetings and congratulations to the State of Israel entering its 13th year.

As the street dancing continued into the night, countless parties got under way in public auditoriums, cinemas and private homes. It was the most Joyous celebration Israel has held in many years. The celebration this year marks not only Israel’s 12th anniversary but also the 100th birthday of Dr. Theodor Herzl. The founder of political Zionism was born in Budapest in 1960.

Prior to the opening of the anniversary celebration, Israel spent a day in solemn observance of Memorial Day, honoring the memories of those who had died in the creation and liberation of Israel. As soon as the period of mourning turned to festive celebration, President Itzhak Ben-Zvi broadcast to the nation–and to the world–a special anniversary message. Prior to his broadcast he formally received the diplomatic corps at Jerusalem, headed by the dean of the corps. Ambassador Emile Bissang, of Switzerland.

In his anniversary message, Mr. Ben-Zvi pointed out that, but for the world Zionist movement launched by Dr. Herzl, “the daring pioneer work of the Jewish youth, the courageous moral and material assistance and brotherly aid from our brethren throughout the world, toward the establishment of the State and its rebuilding, would have been impossible.”

The President expressed his confidence that “fellow Jews will come here from all countries of dispersion to strengthen our ranks, guided and inspired by the example of the early pioneer fighters, of our people who fought for independence.”

The Independence Day celebrations will continue throughout the country all day tomorrow. One of the most impressive parts of the celebration is expected to be a military parade scheduled to be held at Haifa.

NEXT STORY