Gallery: Celebrating in the streets, Israeli style

Celebrations break out throughout the country as the nation marks 63 years since the State of Israel's establishment.

By JOSHUA HAMERMAN
May 10, 2011 08:40
2 minute read.

yom haatzmaut 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

After sundown on Monday, Jerusalem’s Ben Yehuda Street and surrounding blocks became engulfed in a sea of Israeli flags, flashing lights, noisemakers, cotton candy, popcorn, ice cream, falafel and national pride as thousands congregated to celebrate Independence Day.

The capital’s biggest street festival was bookended by concert stages on King George Street and in Zion Square, where artists such as Sarit Hadad and Aviva Avidan performed.

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Beyond the Zion Square concert stage, at the corner of Jaffa and Shneor Cheshin Streets, animation featuring Israeli flags, Stars of David and other objects were projected onto the side of a building to the tunes of electronica music and patriotic Israeli songs.

“All the people are so happy and I’m having a great time,” said Avishag Eliyahu of Netanya, who attended the festival for the first time with a group of friends.

One of Eliyahu’s friends added that the festivities were “the answer to Yom Hazikaron,” and the sadness accompanying that holiday, which ended at sundown.

The diverse entertainment in the area also included harp music by veteran street musician Muriel Eileen, who has played in the vicinity for nearly a decade.

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Some attendees waved small Israeli flags, while others wrapped themselves in larger flags or wore them as capes. Inflatable hammers, baseball bats and caveman clubs with the image of Israel’s flag were also omnipresent.

Street vendors selling popcorn, cotton candy, hot dogs, water, soft drinks, flags, neon flashing headgear and other products dotted the area. One of them even provided an “only in Israel” experience by selling popcorn in Chinese restaurant takeout boxes.

Almost all the food shops and kiosks along Ben Yehuda Street and adjacent roads were open, leading to the prevalence of falafel, shawarma and gelato among the crowd.

Sporadic firework displays also enchanted Independence Day celebrants in the neighborhood.

“This is the main [Independence Day] party in Jerusalem,” said Ofir Zion, a Jerusalemite who comes to the festival every year with his family. “I’m proud to be an Israeli on this day. We have our country and we can be in our own land.”

Tamara Levy, a Jerusalemite who ran a jewelry stand on Ben Yehuda Street during the festival, agreed with Zion. “This is my country, and I’m very happy today,” she said.

Other Independence Day street festivals in Jerusalem on Monday evening were held at the Manahe Yehuda market and Kikar HaHatulot.


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