On Monday evening, as Memorial Day for Israel's fallen soldiers and terror victims ends and Independence Day begins, within minutes the somber, quiet streets of mourning morph into a raucous, rambunctious celebration of Israel's birthday.
- Tourist Tip #191 / The Israeli supermarket
- Tourist tip #74 / Don't leave a message after the tone
- Tourist tip #162 / Kursi National Park - where pigs flew
- Tourist tip #216 / The monument to Tel Aviv's founders
Ordinarily, Israel's cities – especially Tel Aviv – can be pretty noisy, what with all the honking, cellphone chatter and music blaring from stores and markets. On a regular day, though, most Israelis courteously avoid making noise between 2 P.M. and 4 P.M., and after 11 P.M. the police will come if the neighbors complain.
Independence Day is an entirely different beast.
Then (and on Purim and Jerusalem Day), Israelis are allowed, by law, to let loose and make as much noise as they like, for as long as they like.
There are street parties and beachfront parties and house parties and throngs roaming the streets, decked out in blue and white, blatting horns and waving flags and hoisting balloon hammers with which they bop each other on the head, all while spraying silly string and foam in every direction. (Needless to say, some pretty heavy drinking can be involved.)
It is quite a spectacle, and terrific fun if you don’t mind missing a night's sleep.
Sadly, though, if you're not a party animal and the ruckus is riding your last nerve, break out the earplugs, bury your head under a pillow and wait for morning. Whoever you call for help is likely to shrug: "Sorry. Enjoy it. It's Independence Day."