Friday, May 6, 2011

A Children's Independence Day

Yesterday was Rosh Chodesh Iyar, one of my favorite days of the year. That's when the children of ganim (preschools), three to five year olds, celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut (Israel's Independence Day). They gather on the grass or the gym floor or the local plaza in their blue-and-whitest finery with hand-made crowns, crepe paper ties for the young gentlemen and blue crepe paper flowers for the girls.
They sing. They dance. They clap. They wave their flags. They listen to quizzes that surprisingly (or maybe not) they can answer. "Today is the birthday of Medinat (State) Yis____." "___rael." Yay.
"We love to visit Israel's capital, Yerushalay___." "__im." Yay.
"The highest mountain is Israel is the Her___." "___mon." Yay.
They have some entertainment (I'll get back to that) and they give presents to the soldiers of their area.
At the end of the Yom HaAtzmaut program, each gan (preschool class) sends pint-sized representatives to join the teacher in presenting a box of goodies to the soldiers. Usually the box is filled with fun food, toiletries and specialty items that the army might not provide to soldiers. If enough preschools are represented, the soldiers take a pretty good haul back to the base. :)
The boxes are decorated in blue and white with Israeli flags or blue hearts or all kinds of splotches on them. As the mother of some soldiers, I can honestly say that the soldiers cherish the boxes themselves and the notes in them even more than the licorice and clean socks inside.
At our local Preschool Independence Day celebration in the Efrat Community Center, I was lucky enough to be part of the entertainment.
Some of the women from DAMES of the DANCE 4 - The Promised Land, which performed after Purim this year, came together again to do their famous march, A Tribute to the Israeli Army. About 25 women marched in DAMES and sent the audience out of their minds with excitement and flag-waving patriotism. But the DAMES performances were at night, and the two gan shows were in the morning, when students learn, working women work, non-working mothers have to take care of their babies and everything in between. So, although it was difficult to get a group together, we did indeed. We reworked the dance for a small troupe and we marched with our biggest smiles and hearts filled with love for all these little tykes.
After we marched, we went into the crowd and pulled out little children to march with us too, and the result was tremendously great fun. The children cheered. The women soldiers who were present said that we were very professional. :) This actually prompted the MC of the second performance to call the IDF soldiers, the "real soldiers" and we were the "volunteer dancing lady 'soldiers'." If you'd have seen me in a kumta (Army cap) over my headscarf and black pants under my skirt, plus a long-sleeved shirt under my Army t-shirt, I think you wouldn't have confused me with a soldier. Then again, maybe if you were three years old...
The teachers said we were wonderful. Yay. What a way to celebrate Rosh Chodesh!! What a great preview of Yom HaAtzmaut to come!! We had such a terrific time with the kids, we already asked the head of the program to invite us back again next year.
Happy Israeli Independence Day!!!

Be part of the Children's Independence Day. Watch here:

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