New Holidays

Level: Basic

  • A few new holidays have been added in the last 100 years
  • They relate to the Holocaust and the State of Israel

A few minor holidays have been added to the calendar to commemorate various significant events relating to the Holocaust and the modern state of Israel. All of these holidays occur in the period between Passover and Shavu'ot. These holidays are not universally acknowledged, the dates are not entirely agreed upon, and the observances are not yet standardized. They are frequently observed on a different day than the one scheduled to avoid them falling before, during or after Shabbat (Friday, Saturday or Sunday). Nevertheless, they are worth noting.

Yom Ha-Shoah

Yom Ha-Shoah (in Hebrew)

Literally, "Day of the Destruction," also known as Holocaust Remembrance Day. "Shoah" is the Hebrew word used for the Holocaust, often preferred because the term "Holocaust" comes from the Greek word for a burnt offering, as if that horrific mass murder could be compared to a divine offering. This is a memorial day for those who died in the Holocaust. The observance was established by the state of Israel a few years after its foundation, in 1951. It was scheduled to be halfway between the start of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (the largest act of resistance by Jews during the Holocaust) and the establishment of the modern state of Israel. The scheduled date is the 27th of Nissan, but is moved to Sunday if the scheduled date falls on Shabbat or to Thursday if that date falls on a Friday (interfering with Shabbat preparations).

Note that this observance is separate from the International Holocaust Remembrance Day created by the United Nations in 2005, which is observed on January 27 every year. That date was chosen because it was the anniversary of the Allies liberating the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration and death camp, so to some degree it is an observance of the Allied victory over the Holocaust.

Yom Ha-Zikkaron

Yom Ha-Zikkaron (in Hebrew)

Israeli Memorial Day remembers those who died in the War of Independence and other wars in Israel. Unlike American Memorial Day, which is commonly a celebratory barbecue holiday, this is a very serious, solemn day in Israel, because so many people have lost immediate relatives or close friends in Israel's many recent wars. The holiday is scheduled on Iyar 4, but it is commonly observed on another day to avoid this holiday and the following Yom Ha-Atzma'ut interfering with the festivities of Shabbat or its preparations. If the 4th falls on a Thursday or Friday, the holiday is observed on the preceding Wednesday (the 2nd or 3rd). If it falls on a Sunday, the holiday is observed on the following Monday (the 5th). Because of the way the Jewish calendar is calculated, it is never falls on Shabbat.

Yom Ha-Atzma'ut

Yom Ha-Atzmaut (in Hebrew)

Israeli Independence Day marks the establishment of the modern state of Israel in 1948. The video plays the Israeli national anthem, Ha-tikvah. According to some views, the restrictions of the Omer period are lifted for this day. A few anti-Zionist Jews observe this day as a day of mourning for the sin of proclaiming the state of Israel without the Messiah. The holiday is scheduled on Iyar 5, but it is commonly observed on another day to avoid this holiday and the preceding Yom Ha-Zikkaron interfering with Shabbat or its preparations. If the 5th falls on a Friday or Saturday, the holiday is observed on the preceding Thursday (the 3rd or 4th). If it falls on a Monday, the holiday is observed on the following Tuesday (the 6th).

Yom Yerushalayim

Yom Yerushalayim (in Hebrew)

Jerusalem Day. The 28th day of Iyar commemorates the reunification of the city of Jerusalem in Israeli hands, allowing Jews to enter parts of the city that they had been excluded from under Jordanian rule. From 1948 to 1967 ancient parts of Jerusalem such as the Western Wall were closed to Israelis or any traveler coming through Israel. On this holiday, according to some views, restrictions of the Omer period are lifted. Unlike the other holidays discussed on this page, this holiday is not moved if it lands on or near Shabbat.


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