Israeli Independence Day or Yom Ha’atzmaut Menu

Picture of pita bread pocket over stuffed with falafel and Israeli salad. Photo: David Weekly https://www.flickr.com/photos/dweekly/

Photo: David Weekly

We have been blessed to merit participation in the celebration of 70 years of the modern State of Israel. The dreams of countless Jews have been realized in our times. After the Holocaust, it was the goal of the survivors who participated in building the new State of Israel to create the “New Jew,” one who would be different than the ones in Europe before the war. This “New Jew” was the Sabra, the Israeli. Sabras were strong, proud Jews. They did not look, act, speak, or dress like their parents. They also did not eat the foods of Eastern Europe. They ate Israeli food such as pita, falafel, hummus, and olives. Lets celebrate this wonderful occasion with an Israeli falafel bar.

Your falafel bar may replicate the experience of going to a falafel stand in Israel. You may purchase most of the components of a falafel ready made. Your guests will be free to compose their falafel any way they like. You will need:

  • Pita bread
  • Falafel balls
  • Tahini
  • Hummus
  • Baba ganoush
  • Israeli salad
  • Olives
  • Pickled cucumbers

For your convenience, the only thing on this list that I recommend that you prepare from scratch is the Israeli salad. This salad is very versatile and open to interpretation. If you like you may add diced radishes, fresh mint leaves, or parsley. You may also omit anything you don’t like and strip it down to the basic tomato, cucumber and pepper salad. You may purchase the rest already prepared either refrigerated, canned, or frozen.

Close up picture of Israeli salad showing diced cucumber and tomato. Photo: Sharon Gefen - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15075904

Photo: Sharon Gefen

Israeli Salad

  • 1 tomato
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 pepper
  • green onion, to taste
  • cilantro, to taste
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
  1. Dice the tomato, cucumber, and pepper.
  2. Cut up the green onion and cilantro.
  3. Juice the lemon and add to the salad.
  4. Add the olive oil.
  5. Season with salt and black pepper.
  6. Toss well.

Israeli Independence Day Parrillada

Photo by verovera78 https://www.flickr.com/photos/verovera/

Photo by verovera78.

Israelis traditionally party on Independence Day, Yom Haatzmaut, with a mangel, or Israeli barbecue. They season their meats with traditional Middle Eastern spice mixtures. The huge aliyah of Jews from Argentina has also brought recipes from one of the best cuisines of South America to Israel, including Argentinian parrillada, or barbecue.

When the sun sets on May 1, the celebrations — and the grilling — will begin. [Read more…]

Israeli Independence Day Cupcakes

David Ben Gurion declared Israel’s independence on May 14, 1948. In the Hebrew calendar, this is the 5th of Iyar. Yom Ha’atzmaut, the national day commemorating Israel’s declaration of independence, is celebrated on this date every year.

As the sun sets, an official ceremony is held by the Israeli government at Mt. Herzl to celebrate. Twelve torches, symbolizing the twelve tribes of Israel, are lit. When the ceremony concludes, fireworks illuminate the skies.

The next day, the International Bible Contest is held. High school students from around the world compete for a scholarship to Bar Ilan University.

Commanders and fellow soldiers select 120 IDF soldiers who have performed their duty to their country in an outstanding way. They receive an award from the president of Israel at his residence.

The Israel Prize, the highest honor that Israel awards, is handed out. It is given for achievements in the humanities, the sciences, culture, and lifetime achievement.

The celebrations include visits to IDF bases. Weapons are exhibited for the civilian guests.

Many people participate in a festive meal, which is usually a potluck picnic barbecue. This year, Yom Ha’atzmaut falls on May 11th. You may experience this festive tradition by hosting your own Israel themed dinner. A fun activity for your family and guests is to decorate their own Israeli Flag inspired cupcakes. You may buy or bake cupcakes. Then, decorate with frosting, sugar sprinkles and Israeli flag toothpicks.

Easy Vanilla Cupcake
Adapted from The Food Network.

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 12 tbsp. butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Place cupcake liners in a muffin baking tray.
  3. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl.
  4. Spoon batter into each cupcake liner until it is 2/3 full.
  5. Bake for about 20 minutes.

White Frosting
Adapted from MyRecipes.

  • 3 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 4 tbsp. milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  1. Beat all the ingredients together in a mixer.
  2. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely.
  3. Decorate with frosting, candy, and Israeli flags.

The Taste Of Independence: Jaffa Chicken Bar-B-Q

— by Ronit Treatman

On May 14th, sixty five years ago, David Ben-Gurion declared Israel’s independence and “the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz Israel, to be known as the State of Israel.” Yom Ha’atzmaut, as it is known in Hebrew, is a national holiday in Israel. It is celebrated with the recitation of Hallel, a military parade, the International Bible contest, and the awarding of the Israel Prize. The day is concluded with a festive mangal (bar-b-q) and fireworks.

For this special day, I like to prepare a chicken recipe inspired by some of Israel’s first chefs. It takes a staple of the Jewish kitchen, the chicken, and marries it with Israel’s local flavors of Jaffa oranges, olive oil, and Middle Eastern spices.

Full recipe after the jump.
Jaffa Chicken Bar-B-Q

For the marinade:

  • 2 cups of freshly squeezed orange juice (Jaffa or Valencia)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger root
  • 1 tablespoon baharat
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  1. Mix all the ingredients above in a large bowl. Place three pounds of cut-up chicken in the marinade. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.  
  2. Grill slowly over charcoal, at medium heat.
  3. Serve with pita bread, hummus, tahini, Israeli salad, and pickles.