Israeli Independence Day starts on the night of April 18 this year. Did you think that you had to live in Israel to join in the festivities? Nope, we’ve listed 12 ways you can celebrate Israel’s big 70th birthday bash no matter where you happen to be in the world.
So throw on your Israeli t-shirt and shades, crack open an Israeli craft beer and get the grill lit up, ’cause here we go!
- Have a barbecue in your backyard or local park
Israelis love to celebrate Independence Day with a good barbecue out in nature. Usually on the menu are steak, chicken wings, boneless chicken thighs, ground lamb kebabs, hummus and salads.
And don’t you dare forget the charred eggplant, made whole on the grill, and the newly in season sweet watermelon. B’tayavone!
- Make your own nafnaf
Israelis’ unique way of barbecuing includes lighting a small hibachi-style grill called mangal and fanning the flames with a plastic contraption called a nafnaf.
Aside from keeping the grill master busy making funny moves (it’s all in the wrist!), we’re not exactly sure what the real point is here, but it sure does add some active fun to the barbecue experience.
Don’t bother looking for a nafnaf outside of Israel. Improvise your own with a plastic dustpan and a chunk of a cardboard cereal box, frisbee, old pizza box, or literally whatever else you can lay your hands on that might get the job done.
- Break out your favorite “I love Israel” accessories and go to town
Now is the perfect time to wear all your pro-Israel gear, so what are you waiting for? Deck yourself out with cool Israeli jewelry, a great t-shirt, and let those around you know what day it is.
- Play some Israeli tunes
Israelis love a good outdoor concert once the weather gets warm. Each year televised concerts of Israel’s most beloved artists commemorate the happy occasion of Israel’s Independence Day.
You might not be able to attend, but we’ve put together the next best thing – a special Independence Day playlist of Israeli classics, both old and new, for Independence day.
Another option is one of the Israeli song playlists on sites like YouTube. Choose Israeli classics featuring artists such as Shlomo Artzi and Arik Einstein on this playlist or see what newer Israeli artists have been cooking up with this more modern song list.
- Eat hummus
As we mentioned before, hummus is essential to any Israeli barbecue experience, but you can also enjoy it sans the grill to commemorate this year’s big 7-0. Make your own if you want to understand why Israelis are completely obsessed with the stuff.
This recipe from Executive Chef Avi Turgeman of the upscale David Citadel hotel in Jerusalem is a good place to start. The recipe promises ultra-light and creamy results.
2.2 lbs. (1kg) small chickpeas
1 teaspoon baking powder
2½ cups (600 gr) Al Erez tahini
¾ cup (150 gr) olive oil
13.5 oz (400 ml) chickpeas cooking liquid
4 teaspoons (20 gr) salt
1½ teaspoons (8 gr) lemon juice
Soak the chickpeas in water for 24 hours.
Drain and add fresh water, add a teaspoon of baking powder and cook the chickpeas covered until soft, about an hour and a half on a low flame.
Drain the chickpeas and reserve the hot liquid.
Put all the ingredients in a blender and grind at medium speed to a smooth, homogeneous texture. Serve the hot hummus with a little olive oil sprinkled on top.
- Watch Israel Air Force air shows on YouTube
Each year the Israel Air Force soars along the coast of the country to show off its high-flying pilot skills in celebration of Independence Day. Watch just the first minute of this previous “fly past” and you will have a new appreciation of pilots, and just how freaking scary high-velocity airplane tricks can be! What a rush!
- Make blue-and-white food
What could be more fun than blue-and-white food for Israeli Independence Day? Bake up some colored meringue kisses using this tutorial from Bakerella, swapping out the red food coloring for blue to make your sweet cookies Israeli colored.
Or engage the kids in some Israeli-style no-bake chocolate ball making and do the same with colored sprinkles.
- Go for a nature walk
Nothing is more Israeli than being in touch with nature, so go for a hike wherever you reside! For the full Israeli experience, tie a long sleeved t-shirt over your head for a makeshift sun cover, and bring a portable camping stove to whip up some on-the-go herbal tea or Turkish coffee.
- Ward off mosquitos like a pro
What comes with a moderate climate, you ask? The unfortunate answer is killer mosquitoes (figuratively speaking). But you probably also have gigantic mosquitos in the warmer months.
Instead of spraying toxic sprays on your skin, try an all-natural Israeli product such as Zoe Apothecary’s Keeshta! Stick, which wards off mosquitos with lemon eucalyptus, spearmint and other essential oils that act as natural repellents, so you can enjoy Independence Day outdoors without the little buggers.
- Support Israeli lone soldiers and other Israeli charities
Thousands of soldiers without family in Israel serve in the IDF each year. Donating to organizations such as The Lone Soldier Center, created in memory of American-Israeli soldier Michael Levin, who fell in the Second Lebanon War, helps lone soldiers get by before, during and after their service; while nonprofit M’Ever L’Yam matches soldiers with modern pen-pal connections back home and sends them their favorite American treats.
Or pick another Israeli charity. There are thousands to choose from, but we like the fun vibes of Wine on the Vine, which lets you adopt Israeli grapevines in boutique vineyards; and Leket, Israel’s national food bank.
- Dine in an Israeli restaurant in your country
Live in New York, but want to really feel the Israeli part of Israel Independence Day? Lucky for you, there are more than a few places to get your Israeli food fix for the holiday without having to do any of the heavy lifting yourself.
Some options are Timna and Balaboosta in New York; Dizengoff in NYC and Philadelphia; Shaya in New Orleans; Taboun Grill in Chicago; Habayit in Los Angeles; Aviv in Portland, Oregon; Nopi and Honey & Co. in London; Sababa in Cape Town; and Miznon in Melbourne, Vienna, Paris or NYC.
- Enjoy an Israeli brew or boutique wine
It might take some preordering, but it’s worth it to enjoy all that the Israeli craft beer and boutique wine boom has to offer. Products from hundreds of breweries and wineries let you have a curated Israeli experience from home by visiting your local liquor store or ordering online. Try Alexander or Tulip for starters.