Crossing Borders
Independence Day
Seeds of Change
Life in the Crossfire
American in Israel
Kids Speak Out

Children Celebrate Independence Day in Israel
by Randi J. Marlin
Special to Scholastic News from Jerusalem

Alon Ben-Besat, 12, from Psgat Ze'ev, with a can of shaving cream. Watchout!
Israeli kids recently tasted freedom for the first time in weeks. On April 17th, Israel's Independence Day, young Israelis left their homes to hang out with friends in public parks and other places that many people now avoid because of conflict.

Scholastic News interviewed kids who celebrated their holiday in Jerusalem, one major Israeli city that did not cancel its Independence Day celebrations. Because of the many suicide bombings against Israel, most parents are not allowing their children to visit crowded areas. Many kids agree with their parents—they're too afraid to go out to their favorite places like the park or the mall.

Israeli kids feel a close personal connection to their state. Independence Day follows a Day of Remembrance for Israel's soldiers who have died.

Yehuda Ben-Sherat, 12, and his sister Shoshana, 9, from Ma'ale Adumin, outside Jerusalem.
Many Israeli kids know tragedy first hand from family or friends who have been killed. They celebrate to show that the soldiers died for a reason—to create their state.

Like July 4th in the U.S., Independence Day is filled with fireworks and barbecues. Israeli kids, however, add a new twist—shaving cream. A popular custom among kids is spraying each other and some adults with shaving cream. None of the kids who spoke with Scholastic News could explain this strange custom, yet most felt like 13-year-old Nachum Mizrachi. "It's just a lot of fun spraying cream on people," he said.

During a break from their fun, the kids below were asked how they felt about the current conflict, Independence Day, and their hopes for the future.

"I love to go out with my friends but I can't do that now because of the situation. I stay at home a lot. I can't visit places," said Alon Ben-Besat, 12, from Psgat Ze'ev.

Ori Rubinov, 11, of Jerusalem
"I'm a little bit afraid. I don't go to the center of the city anymore," Ori Rubinov, 11, of Jerusalem, told Scholastic News. She feels some security because "soldiers like my 20-year-old brother in the Army are protecting us." Ori's aunt was killed during a bombing the day before she was going to be released from the Army. Ori hopes for peace and no more attacks.

"It's dangerous," says Liraz Mirachi, 11, of Neve Ya'akov. "My brother was injured in an attack but he's okay now. I'm afraid to go out. But today is a lot of fun. I can forget about all the sadness."

"I want peace but I don't see it in the future. I'm half happy and half sad. Many soldiers died but we have a state. Today we can forget everything—we're free on Independence Day," said Yehuda Ben-Sherat, 12, of Ma'ale Adumin.

"[Yesterday] I stood in silence and lit candles for the soldiers. I'm happy [now] but it's hard to go from being sad during the day to being happy at night. I'm afraid. I want peace," said Liat Tal, 11, of Almos Haschacher.

Photos by Adam Marlin

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