Yom Haatzmaut this year.

My flight is on erev Yom Haatmzaut – the eve of Independence Day here in Israel. That is THE day of the year: everyone takes off work, everyone goes to parks, everyone barbecues as much meat as they can, and everyone coughs a lot and experiences stinging eyeballs as the other entire country is crammed together in unity, polluting parks under clouds of grilled smoke.

Despite how absolutely fun that sounds, I got a lot of puzzled reactions when I told people about my travel plans. You’re missing Yom Haatzmaut???

Maybe I’m not Israeli enough to care that much, or maybe I’m not sentimental enough to care that much. I’ve been here five years, maybe it’s worn off.

Or maybe – just maybe – I’m too much Israeli up in this piece: The flight I got was a special rate from El Al (whose motto is , “הכי בבית בעולם”) for Israelis leaving the country over Yom Haatzmaut.

An Israeli county fair in the dream of aliyah.

Spent the evening strolling around the Yom Haatzmaut celebration going on in the Tzur Hadassah elementary schoolyard. Clowns, kids, silly string, shaving cream, noise makers, cotton candy, lights, balloons… This no singles’ event.

I started reading old entries from a few years ago, describing my purpose for moving to Israel, my role in the aliyah movement, my reasons for coming here. It’s only now that I’m starting to realize the actuality of all my fancy words and dreamy descriptions. I can have kids in this small town and they can run around with all kinds of different friends and come to a “county fair” on Yom Haatzmaut and not worry about having to explain what that means.

I can actually see this in all the other kids running around here. They never give a thought to what it might be like to be surrounded by people who don’t understand. This is life: small Israeli town, big Jewish holidays. Everyday life and Jewish meaning colliding. As much as we allow it. And, man, would I be willing to allow it.

It’s flag season in Tel Aviv.

Spent the afternoon walking around Tel Aviv. It was the first time I noticed that the flags are out for flag season, or Yom Haatzmaut, which is going down next Wednesday evening-Thursday. It’s Israel’s 60th anniversary this time, so it’s actually more than just personal flags – storefronts, advertisements and highways are more decorated than usual.

Tel Aviv Ibn Gibrol Israeli flags

Ibn Gibrol Street in central Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv municipality flag

Tel Aviv municipality

Residential Israeli flags

Private residence

Steimatsky storefront for Israel

Steimatsky book store

Bank Hapoalim Israeli flag marketing

Bank Hapoalim

Bank Hapoalim Israeli Independence Day marketing

Bank Hapoalim

Elite bus for Israel 60th anniversary

Elite chocolate

Kikar Rabin for Yom Haatzmaut

Kikar Rabin preparations