Israelis made the annual abrupt jump from sorrow to joy Monday night, as Memorial Day concluded, and Yom Ha'atzma'ut (Independence Day) began. The main torch lighting ceremony opening Yom Ha'atzma'ut took place at Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem as the sun set, with 12 Israelis from different backgrounds and professions chosen to light the torches.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein opened the ceremonies, calling on all parts of the nation to show more understanding for the others. “We must continue to debate, but when we debate on issues like 'sharing the burden' of IDF service or 'left versus right,' we may not wish or work for the elimination of our opposite. We must strive for a society that includes those who debate and argue, where a hareidi Jew can actualize his lifestyle fully and without prejudice, while accepting responsibility for the safety and future of the state, just as a secular person his age would do,” Edelstein said.
Turning to the young people in the audience, Edelstein said “it is by the hands of the youth that we will realize the future of Israel. You are our national hope. Do not succumb to exhaustion, and remove yourselves from the bubble,” he said, adding that “our future is in Zionism, not cynicism.”