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☞   Yom ha-Atsma’ut Readings

This is an archive of public readings selected for Yom ha-Atsma’ut, commemorating the State of Israel’s national Day of Independence.

If you have composed or selected a public reading for Yom ha-Atsma’ut, please share it here.

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For prayers composed for Yom ha-Atsma’ut, go here.

סדר לקריאת מגילת העצמאות | Reading of the Declaration of Independence of the State of Israel for Yom ha-Atsma’ut (1948)

Jews have read sacred texts to commemorate miracles of redemption for a long time. Purim has Megilat Esther. Many communities read Megilat Antiochus or Megilat Yehudit for Ḥanukkah. But to many modern Jews, the most miraculous redemption in recent history was the founding of the state of Israel, as we commemorate on Yom ha-Atsma’ut. Like Purim, the story of the founding of Israel was entirely secular on a surface level, with no big showy miracles like a sea splitting or a mountain aflame. Like Ḥanukkah, a Jewish state in the Land of Israel won its independence against mighty forces allied in opposition. But we don’t have a megillah to read for Yom ha-Atsma’ut. Or do we? Just as Megillat Esther is said to be a letter written by Mordekhai to raise awareness of the events of Shushan, so too does the Israeli Scroll of Independence, Megilat ha-Atsma’ut, raise awareness of the events of the founding of the State of Israel. In this vein, I decided to create a cantillation system for Megilat ha-Atsma’ut. Ta’amei miqra were chosen attempting to follow Masoretic grammatical rules – since modern Hebrew has a different grammatical structure, the form is somewhat loose. Because of the thematic similarities to Purim, I chose Esther cantillation for the majority of the text. Just as some tragic lines in Esther are read in Eikhah cantillation, some lines regarding the Shoah or bearing grim portents for the wars to follow are to be sung in Eikhah cantillation. And the final phrases of chapters II and III are to be sung in the melody for the end of a book of the Ḥumash, or the Song of the Sea melody. They can be done in a call-and-response form, with the community reading and the reader repeating. . . .