The last Yom Ha’Atzma’ut feels like it was a decade ago. The past year has been a long and traumatic one for the State of Israel and for all of us. Those younger than fifty-five do not remember one as challenging for our people.

How should we approach Yom Ha’Atzma’ut this year? Should we celebrate under such circumstances? Should we dance while thousands mourn and heal from their wounds? Should we sing while over one hundred families wonder about the fate of their loved ones held hostage? Should we celebrate the founding of the state that suffered the October 7 massacre and is enduring the subsequent war?

Why We Should Celebrate

Though we need to be sensitive to those suffering, yes — we should still celebrate.

Despite experiencing hardships (and maybe especially when experiencing hardships), we should celebrate and thank Hashem for His miraculous assistance. This is why our ancestors celebrated our holidays in the darkest times and places, including recent ghettos and concentration camps. They were able to see beyond what they were experiencing. When their reality was bleak, they commemorated past miracles and reinforced their belief in future ones.

We have even more reason to celebrate Yom Ha’Atzmaut for there is an important difference between the attacks we are experiencing and the suffering and martyrdom of our ancestors.

Their suffering was heroic and a kiddush Hashem. They were killed because they were Jews, because of their identity and beliefs. That having been said, their death was part of our exilic persecution. Our present suffering is of a different ilk. Jews in Eretz Yisrael sacrifice their lives defending our people, our Land, and our state. Our losses and suffering are tragic and painful, but they are part of the process of our redemption — our return to and rebuilding of Eretz Yisrael.

We must not allow our mourning and pain to overshadow the process we are privileged to be part of. Israel has two memorial days in two subsequent weeks. Yom HaZikaron reminds us of the price we pay for having a State; Yom HaSho’ah reminds us of the cost of not having had one. Over one thousand people were killed on October 7th. That is less than the number killed in a single hour in Auschwitz alone.

We are sad to have to pay the high price of having a state, but, now more than ever, we also celebrate Hashem having given us one. We continue celebrating Yom Ha’Atzmaut because we are no less appreciative and thankful.

How We Should Celebrate

Still, our celebration should be different this year. Our modes of expression must be sensitive to those suffering. Yom Ha’Atzmaut should be less boisterous and more reflective. In addition, we should ensure that our celebration is rooted in a meaningful appreciation of the State of Israel. We can accomplish this by taking full advantage of Yom HaZikaron.

Just as Purim follows the reflection of Taanit Esther, so Yom Ha’Atzmaut follows Yom HaZikaron. Before we celebrate, we remember those who paid the ultimate price on our behalf and the process they helped facilitate. We should consider why our return to and rebuilding of Eretz Yisrael has been and continues to be so challenging and what further steps we must take to merit peace and the completion of our redemption.

I recommend four Yom HaZikaron reflections.

Appreciation and Investment

Our generation did not experience the horrors of the Holocaust. We were born into a world with the State of Israel. We had the luxury of not needing to appreciate the state's importance, and we could naive assume its existential security.

October 7th and the past seven months were our wake-up call. We have seen attacks on and demonization of Jews all over the world. Sadly, antisemitism, even in its most vile forms, is part of the present, not just the past. Once again, we see insensitivity to Jewish suffering and double standards applied to Israel.

And at the very time when our state is most needed, its right to exist is challenged. Though our relationship with our homeland goes back thousands of years and the modern state is over seventy-five, many continue calling for and working towards its demise (chas v’shalom).

These circumstances call upon us to reappreciate Hashem’s gift and commit ourselves to strengthening it. We often assume that others will see to the needs of the state. Over the past seven months, we all felt compelled to roll up our sleeves and get involved. We should commit ourselves to continuing this in the coming year(s). We appreciate the gift of the State of Israel and realize our responsibility to personally defend and support it.


Hubris has always been part of the Zionist enterprise. Faith breeds optimism but also, sometimes, complacency. The success of the Six-Day War generated the overconfidence that facilitated the Yom Kippur failure a mere six years later.

Israel has come a long way in the fifty years since the Yom Kippur War. Sadly, this success once again generated complacency. The fact that the Hamas invasion took place almost exactly fifty years after the Yom Kippur War should remind us that we are still plagued by overconfidence. Israeli society needs a healthy dose of humility to balance our success.

We should work to ensure that we are never again blinded by success. We must remember that our success comes from continued hard work and siyata d’Shmaya. As we live among vicious enemies, we can never again let our guard down; we must apply ourselves in both practice and prayer.


We all remember how fractured we were before October 7th. Violent protests and calls for civil disobedience and boycotting the military made us vulnerable. Our disunity gave our enemies the perfect opportunity to attack.

October 7 was Hashem’s way of reminding us that we are one people. Hamas and our other enemies see no difference between Jews in Israel and those who live around the world, between religious and secular, and conservatives and liberals. We are all Jews and all attacked and demonized.

Baruch Hashem, we came together to fight our common enemy, shoulder to shoulder. However, this alone does not reflect unity. The fact that we responded together to a common threat does not mean that we see ourselves as one people in any meaningful way. This is why the decrease in the intensity of the fighting has brought a renewal of discord and disunity.

We all realize how important it is to take the cooperative spirit we felt over the past months to the next level. We need to remind ourselves that we are one people and act in a way that reinforces unity. 

Identity and Relationships

The massive wave of anti-semitism after October 7 reminded us that we are the “people who dwell alone.” Before October 7th, Israel felt accepted among the nations of the world, and many Jews around the globe felt comfortable within their country’s social fabric. The last seven months reminded us that we are a unique people with a unique mission.

Though we seek to impact others, we must remember that we are different.

Antisemitism reminds us of the centrality of our relationship with Hashem — the only one we can truly rely upon. We must focus more on our identity as Hashem’s people and our relationship with Him.

Yom Ha’atzmaut 5784

This year's celebration may be more challenging, but it is also more important. It is a time for us to both appreciate, celebrate, and thank Hashem for the State of Israel and also reflect on what we can do to merit His future grace and the completion of our redemption.

Rav Reuven Taragin is the Dean of Overseas Students at Yeshivat Hakotel and the Educational Director of World Mizrachi and the RZA. His new book, Essentials of Judaism, can be purchased at