Books and B7, gin and Herzl, for an independent celebration
Top five

Books and B7, gin and Herzl, for an independent celebration

Five alternative ways to celebrate Yom Ha'atzmaut, Israel's 65th birthday

Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.

Celebrating life in Israel (photo credit: Yehoshua Yosef/Flash90)
Celebrating life in Israel (photo credit: Yehoshua Yosef/Flash90)

As the country stocks up on kilos of potatoes, beef kebabs and deboned chickens (pargiyot) for the annual nationwide barbecue that is Yom Ha’atzma’ut, take some time to consider some other ways to celebrate Israel’s 65th year of independence.

From a photography excursion in the capital of the south to a list of books all about Israel, we’ve got a top-five tally that offers another angle on Israel’s independence, and some well-deserved freedom from the kitchen and the grill.

Happy celebrations.

Hanging out in B7 (Courtesy B7 Art Experience)
Hanging out in B7 (photo credit: Courtesy B7 Art Experience)

1) Sign up for a special Yom Ha’atzmaut Photography Trail with the B7 Art Experience, a group of locals who offer tours and workshops in Beersheba, focusing on the Old City. This particular tour will detail the changes that were made to the city during Israel’s independence and take a look at styles of photography at that time, according to Hannah Rendell, the B7 founder. Guided by professional and student photographers, the trail shows participants new ways of looking at buildings, the environment and people, using photography as the tool — and the Old City of Beersheba, mainly built by the Ottomans around the early 1900s, as the inspiration. The entire trail takes 1.5-2 hours, no previous photography experience needed. Go to for booking information.

Paul Newman in the film verson of Exodus (photo credit: YouTube screenshot)
Paul Newman in the film version of ‘Exodus’ (photo credit: screenshot, YouTube)

2) Public relations agent Stuart Schnee specializes in book publicity and marketing, and has been compiling a list of the 65 best books connected to Israel, which can be “books about Israel, a story that takes place in Israel, a book by an Israeli… fiction, nonfiction, a cookbook.”  So far, said Schnee, “Exodus” by Leon Uris is leading, while Haim Sabato and Amos Oz are doing well, followed by “God,” said Schnee, as the presumed author of the Bible. He invites readers to send in the titles of their best-loved books, telling “which books impacted you, which helped you fall in love with the land, or the books that made you realize how complex things can be. Or the ones you just love.” The list will be published on or about Independence Day.

3) Looking for an independence-inspired flick? Local filmmaker Eli Tal-El created a documentary about the private life of proto-Zionist Theodor Herzl. To Tal-El, Herzl was a washed-out icon while in the eyes of his Canadian brother-in-law, an avid collector of Herzl memorabilia, Herzl is an inspiring superstar. The documentary is their attempt to convince each other, and is a look at Herzl the man and his legacy.

4) Still and all, it’s a day to celebrate, and drinks are on the table. Jerusalem’s Casino de Paris, a bar housed in what was formerly a brothel during Mandate times in the city’s Mahane Yehuda market, is known for its cleverly themed cocktails, and suggests the following when drinking a L’chaim to Israel’s 65th:

Eliyahu, Tishti? (“Elijah, will you drink?” — a pun on Eliyahu HaTishbi, or Elijah the Tishbite, as Elijah the Prophet is called)

  • 1 shot gin
  • ½ shot Campari
  • Crushed ice
  • Orange peel and a splash of tonic
Writers, actors, politicians and journalists who will be discussing Zionism, identity and life at the Tower of David Museum (photo credit: Oded Antman)
Writers, actors, politicians and journalists who will be discussing Zionism, identity and life at the Tower of David Museum. (photo credit: Oded Antman)

5) Jerusalem’s Tower of David Museum is taking a different approach to the holiday, offering, in conjunction with the Bina Secular Yeshiva, a combined secular and religious event that aims to add content to the celebration. There will be a study of the Declaration of Independence, film screenings, discussions with a variety of thinkers and writers (including Jackie Levy, Dov Elbaum, Neri Livneh, Tomer Frasico, Dr. Ruhama Weiss, David Menachem, Sharon Majewski, Yonatan Kunda and Neta Weiner and Ortal Ben-Dayan), a traditional Israeli folk song singdown hosted by young Jerusalem musicians, a campfire with storytelling and finally, an 11 p.m. concert with The Giraffes band and a DJ party until dawn. Pre-purchased tickets are NIS 50; it’s NIS 70 at the door. To purchase tickets, please call *2884. Additional information at and the museum’s Facebook page.

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