Yom HaAtzma-ut, Israeli Independence Day, marks the establishment of the modern state of Israel in 1948. It is observed on the fifth day of Iyar in the Hebrew calendar. The Israeli Knesset declared the fifth of Iyar a public holiday in 1949; David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, noted that it was the first holiday to be added to the Hebrew calendar in more than two thousand years.
In November 1947, the General Assembly of the United Nations passed a resolution establishing the State of Israel in what was then British-controlled Palestine. The British Mandate of Palestine ended on Friday, May 14, 1948. On that day, the Jewish People’s Council, led by Ben-Gurion and comprised of representatives of the Jewish community in Palestine and the Zionist Movement, gathered at the Tel Aviv Art Museum. As Shabbat approached, the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel was written, accepted and signed. The United States officially recognized Israel that very same night.