On Independence Day, feel free to choose your celebration

Smashed burgers, a chocolatey porter, Israeli flicks and freebies are just some of the ways to avoid the silly string and inflatable hammers

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

Israelis barbecue at Dolfinarium beach park in Tel Aviv on Israel's 68th Independence Day, May 12, 2016 (Miriam Alster/Flash 90)
Israelis barbecue at Dolfinarium beach park in Tel Aviv on Israel's 68th Independence Day, May 12, 2016 (Miriam Alster/Flash 90)

As Israel’s Memorial Day comes to a close, the country switches gears in order to celebrate Independence Day, a 24-hour period of fireworks and barbecues, picnics and sing-a-longs, kids armed with cans of “snow” foam and inflatable Israeli-flag hammers.

We’ve got a few ideas for how to celebrate Israel’s 69th, and it doesn’t have to be with a grilled side of cow, pita and hummus. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, either.

1) For starters, a diverse selection of local museums are free or offering heavily discounted entry to spend part of the day perusing art, science and innovation. Jerusalem’s Israel Museum is free on Tuesday, May 2, while the city’s Bloomfield Museum of Science has NIS 10 tickets and a dance performance as well.

There are plays and performances at many of Jerusalem’s theaters and performance spaces on Tuesday, including the Koom Koom Theater, Yellow Submarine, Incubator Theater, Beit Mazia, Tower of David Museum and First Station. See the municipality website for a full listing of events.

There is free entry at Haifa’s National Maritime Museum, Hermann Struck, and The City museums on Tuesday. In Tel Aviv, check out the block party on Tuesday morning on Rothschild Boulevard, and the Eretz Israel Museum is offering free entry for kids up to age 18. On Tuesday night, there is Israeli folkdancing in Tel Aviv’s Ganei Yehoshua, from 6:30 p.m until 9:30 p.m.

2) Don’t feel like joining the hordes of people heading outdoors? Head indoors instead, for an Israeli film fest of your own.

“Rooms of the House” is Eitan Green’s new film, about Avram, a Jerusalem building contractor, a regular Joe, who tries to move forward in his life, but encounters disaster instead. It’s a film that delves deeply into Israeli life through the prism of one man and his family. Showing at Lev movie theaters throughout the country.

Another option is the Solidarity and Human Rights film festival, marking 50 years of the Israeli occupation, being held at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque right after Independence Day, from May 4 though May 9, with more than 20 Israeli and international films shown on the big screen.

3) If you are going to grill, you’ll need a good burger recipe. Opinion is often divided on what makes a great burger. Purists are certain the chopped meat needs only a simple shake each of salt and pepper, possibly a sprinkling of grated onion, and then refraining from pressing it down while on the grill.

But if you like to experiment, you’ll want the so-called ‘smash burger,’ a simple mixture of ground beef sprinkled with salt — that can be mixed with some ground steak, if you’re so inclined — and then divided into portions, but not formed into patties. Place each portion on the griddle and smash it flat with a spatula, forming craggy edges, and seasoned liberally with salt. Cook until the outer edges are brown, about two minutes. Flip ’em, season again with salt, and cook until medium-rare.

The classic 'Israeli' Swiss army knife, everything you need for a meal on the run (Courtesy Gentleman)
The classic ‘Israeli’ Swiss army knife, everything you need for a meal on the run (Courtesy Gentleman)

4) If you are planning a barbecue, or heading to one, here’s a gift for that special guy behind the grill; a Swiss army knife, but in blue-and-white, rather than the usual red-and-white. It is being sold by the Gentleman chain of stores, which also has lighters decorated with uniquely Israeli images, as well as elaborate backgammon sets, portable speakers for blaring your choice of music wherever you cop your picnic spot, and barbecue tools for the grillmasters.

The Dictator, a new chocolately microbrew from the Beer Bazaar brewery (Courtesy Beer Bazaar)
The Dictator, a new chocolatey microbrew from the Beer Bazaar brewery (Courtesy Beer Bazaar)

5) Don’t forget to keep yourself hydrated with all this activity. You could mix some Tubi 60 cocktails, using the Israeli-made spirit of 60 different herbs and fruits that some contend is too strong, but others appreciate for its lemony flavor.

There’s also a host of Israeli microbrews that would be perfect for an Independence Day Barbecue. Doug Greener from the Israel Brews and Views Blog recently recommended the chocolatey Dictator Porter from the Beer Bazaar Brewery in Kiryat Gat, with a caricature of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin on the label. On this day of Israeli independence, perhaps there’s no better beer to drink, given the 1903 British offer of a portion of Uganda for a Jewish homeland. It’s a good thing Theodor Herzl turned them down.

Happy 69th.

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