Menachem Mendel

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Liturgical Responses to Yom ha-Atzmaut

Since the establishment of the State of Israel, Jews have been witnesses to the formative period of a liturgical response to this momentous event. This process is continuing to this very day, and may continue for years to come. The many different liturgical responses that have been composed are reflective of different religious, cultural, and national sensibilities.

The recitation of Hallel is quite common, and the past few years has seen a number of attempts at formulating an appropriate Al ha-Nissim prayer for this day to be recited during the amidah and birkat ha-mazon. Here is one of the more recent versions, with an older one found here. A previous post on this topic can be found here.

One of the first instances of an Al ha-Nissim-like prayer that I could find was from this 1959 publication by the Israeli Ministry of Religion.

Yom HaAtzmaut-Seder Tefillot veHodayot (page 1 of 5).jpg


In this booklet I found the following:

Yom HaAtzmaut-Seder Tefillot veHodayot (page 4 of 5).jpg


A full-blown Al ha-Nissm can be found in a siddur published by the Religious Kibbutz Movement in 1968 and then in a number of later editions. I had heard that this was removed from later editions, but I haven’t seen any evidence of this. Here is a page from the siddur.

Yom HaAtzmaut-Siddur HaKibbutz HaDati (page 3 of 3).jpg


This siddur also included a kiddush for both the evening and the morning.

Yom HaAtzmaut-kiddush Siddur HaKibbutz HaDati (page 2 of 3).jpg


A different attempt at a liturgical response to the establishment of Israel was the composition of numerous haggadot. The first one to be composed was by the author Aharon Megged in 1952. Thousands of copies were printed by the army, only to be destroyed after pressure from the Army Rabbinate over the text. Part of the text was reprinted a number of years ago, but an original copy which survived the destruction sells for thousands of dollars. Below are some selections from the haggadah. For more see here.

כנגד ארבעה בנים דיברה תורה: אחד חכם, אחד רשע, אחד תם ואחד שאינו יודע לשאול:
חכם מה הוא אומר? מה העדות והחוקים והמשפטים אשר עליהם בנויה מדינתנו? ואף אתה אמור לו מהלכות המדינה: פתוחה לעלייה יהודית ולקיבוץ גלויות, שוקדת על פיתוח הארץ לכל תושביה, מושתתת על יסודות החירות, הצדק והשלום לאור חזונם של נביאי ישראל.
רשע מה הוא אומר? מה המדינה הזאת לכם? לכם ולא לו, ולפי שהוציא עצמו מן הכלל כפר בעיקר. ואף אתה הקהה את שיניו ואמור לו: בעבור זה היא לנו ולא לו, כי אילו היה שם – לא היה נגאל.
תם מה הוא אומר? מה זאת? ואמרת: בעלייה, עבודה והגנה כבשנו את הארץ והקמנו את המדינה.
ושאינו יודע לשאול, את פתח לו, שנאמר: וסיפרת את עלילות הגבורה לכל תושבי המדינה. תושבי המדינה – הוותיקים, כל תושבי המדינה – החדשים והוותיקים גם יחד. 

והיא שעמדה לאבותינו ולנו, שלא אחד בלבד עמד עלינו לכלותנו, ואנו מתגוננים וניצלים מידם.

Here is a page from a haggadah, possibly Megged’s.

Yom HaAtzmaut-megged haggadah.jpg

Here is another haggadah.

Yom HaAtzmaut-cover Kanner Haggadah (page 1 of 3).jpg
Yom HaAtzmaut-selection Kanner Haggadah (page 3 of 3).jpg


Similar haggadot continue to be written until today, including some in English, and more on these haggadot can be found here.

A similar attempt was made to compose a tikkun for Yom ha-Atzmaut. This one was published in 1955.

Yom HaAtzmaut-Tikkun Yom HaAtzmaut (page 1 of 33).jpg
Yom HaAtzmaut-Tikkun Yom HaAtzmaut (page 2 of 33).jpg


Different liturgical responses will continue to be composed for years to come, testimony to the strength of a living tradition. Hopefully there will not develop a single tradition of how to celebrate Yom ha-Atzmaut, allowing different communities to celebrate it in different ways.

Update: Aharon Arnad has written about liturgical pieces for Yom ha-Atzmaut. Two of them in Hebrew can be found here and here, in English one can be found here.

16 Responses to “Liturgical Responses to Yom ha-Atzmaut”

  1. 1
    Dave (Balashon):

    I have a copy of the 4th edition (1992) of Kibbutz HaDati’s “Seder Tefilot L’Yom HaAtzmaut V’L’Yom Yerushalayim.” They do not include an Al HaNissim, but in the end include a letter from Rav Goren that was included in the 3rd edition (1976) where he expressed reservations about Al HaNisim (while agreeing with many of the other practices.) I’m guessing that perhaps that was the reason they did not include it in the 4th edition.

  2. 2
    Menachem Mendel:


    Thanks for the verification that Al ha-Nissim was eventually taken out. I am a bit surprised that they felt a need to seek some sort of approval from Rav Goren. I know that the UJA Haggadah for Yom ha-Atzmaut that can be found here was composed with Rav Goren’s approval. He also has an article on Al Ha-Nissim for Yom ha-Atzmaut in a volume edited by Nachum Rakover.

  3. 3
    Jeremy Schwartz:

    I think an interesting question in composing an Al Hanisim for Yom Ha’Atzmaut is how to use religious language to celebrate an event in which Jews who rejected religion played such a crucial role. I also find the wide use of the term “seven nations” in Al Hanisim compositions to be extremely problematic. The rabbis have clearly stated that the ancient “seven nations” no longer exist and there are reasons dealing with the ethics of war to be careful to maintain that halachic stance. (I don’t want to be too explicit here on the web, but ‘hamevin yavin.’ I’ve tried to address those issues in the following language:
    “In the days of the pioneers of your people, Ben Gurion and his comrades, whom you once again caused to hear the words, “you shall choose life,” who heard and acted according to Your words, “you shall come into the land and plant.” In those days, a great multitude strayed into the worship of the idols of other nations, and also made of Your holy name a heavenly idol, that could never see and never live, heaven forbid. … Then your children, the pioneers of your people, though they turned from Your name, yet heard Your voice, and tore down the idols, and brought Your living Presence back to the land which You gave to our ancestors, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah. And on the fifth day of Iyyar, they proclaimed and established the State of Israel, the first fruit of the flourishing of our redemption; that is this very day, the Day of Independence for your people who have returned to be a free people in our land, the land of Zion and Jerusalem.”
    The elipses in there represents a section mentioning the Shoah, but I’m quite dissatisfied with that part of my composition

  4. 4
    Rabbi David Mescheloff:

    Well presented. Yishar kochakha!

    You may also find the following of interest:

    Thank G-d there is an Israel!

  5. 5
    Lion of Zion:

    dave above beat me. but why are you surpised that kibbutz hadati would turn to rav goren for guidance?

    thanks for posting this very interesting post.

    “Different liturgical responses will continue to be composed for years to come, testimony to the strength of a living tradition.”

    all very interesting material but how “strong” of a tradition is if none of the example you provided above took root or are otherwise popular outside of small circiles (as far as i know). yes there is a sense of vitality with all these different formulations, but still, they mostly represent isolated activities?

  6. 6
    Lion of Zion:

    i think i have a masorati (?) yom haatzmaut mahzor at home with al hanisim.

    note also that the kibbutz hadati mahzor doesn not follow the rabbanut’s liturgy (as printed in rinat yisrael)

  7. 7
    Menachem Mendel:

    1. I think that most of the time new traditions and customs take some time to acquire roots. Al ha-Nissim is being recited by more and more people every year (IMHO), and it may never be that only one version is recited. Traditions are not born overnight and I don’t think that anyone should expect one form of customs to take root. Maybe in a hundred years things will look different on a larger scale.

    2. Rav Goren was not particularly close to the religious kibbutz movement. A quick search through Arye Fishman’s book Judaism and Modernization on Google Books does not show one hit for Rav Goren. The Religious Kibbutz Movement had a troubled relationship with the Chief Rabbinate in many areas, including Yom ha-Atzmaut. See here.

  8. 8
    Eli Duker:

    The shul I grew up in, Lower Merion Synagogue near Philly said the מי שעשה נסים as a lead in to Hallel (as no brachah was said)
    On another note here is a פיוט קרובץ I wrote for the day

  9. 9
    Lion of Zion:


    “I think that most of the time new traditions and customs take some time to acquire roots . . .”

    as soon as i clicked submit, i knew you would respond this way. yes, of course what became the “standard” liturgy in general wasn’t canonized overnight.

    still, i’m curious for purely academic reasons (because i would never say anything loaded with parochialism):

    “Al ha-Nissim is being recited by more and more people every year”

    are you referring to ortho circles as well?

  10. 10
    Menachem Mendel:


    Based mostly on anecdotal evidence, e.g. articles that have been written in newspapers and on blogs, I think that even in Ortho circles there is a growing desire to expand the ritual aspect of Yom ha-Atzmaut. My impressions are mainly related to what is happening in Israel, my bias, since I think that religious Judaism in Israel is generally more creative than its Diaspora counterparts.

  11. 11
    Lion of Zion:

    interesting book you linked to. but it only touches the surface on the yom haatzmaut liturgy and other issues.

    i see it mentions the milking controversy. another problem for the kibbutzim i don’t see him mentioning is that using arab labor would violate the principle of avodah ivrit.

    a lot of the teachers when i was in yeshivah came from kibbutz yavne. we once visited the dairy farm on the kibbutz with a teacher and he was related to us at legnth the history of the milking issue and how it ignored the rabbinate compromise.

    (incidentally, the “shiluv” yeshivah i learned in was estbalished by the religious kibbutz movement because of it’s opposition to hesder service, but i didn’t get any hits for hesder or shiluv in the book. the book merely mentions that the kibbutzim opposed the rabbiniate’s exemption of yeshivah students. i assume this refers to hesder, or does the rabbinate endorse haredi-style exmeption?)

  12. 12
    Menachem Mendel:

    Fishman’s book was published in 1992, I think that Shiluv already existed when he was writing, but he may not have been interested in that aspect of Kibbutz ha-Dati. Another factor in the shiluv/hesder world is the meteoric rise of the yeshivot kedem tzevaiyot. My impression is that they are more popular than hesder yeshivot, although that’s just a guess.

  13. 13
    Lion of Zion:

    shiluv was definately around (i was in the ein tzurim branch zal for a year in 92-93) and was probably at (or almost at) it’s height then.

    it belong’s in the book. afaiu, kibbutz boys were not permitted to serve in hesder and when shiluv was finally established to enable them combine yeshivah and army it was an unapologetic stab in the “mainstream” dati leumi camp’s eye (iirc they even summoned shiluv to a bet din to keep it from opening).

    i guess when i write my book i can choose to include whatever i think is important.

    getting back to liturgy, i looked at the kibbutz hadati mahzor last night. r. goren objected to al hanisim (subsequently removed), the flag ceremony and leining/haftarah with berakhot (opposition to the latter is interesting, because i thought that was accepted specifically in the army?)

    i can’t find the masorati (?) mahzor i have.

  14. 14
    Menachem Mendel:

    The Al ha-Nissim from Siddur Sim Shalom can be found here. There is a different version found in the Israeli Masorati/Conservative Movement’s siddur, Va-Ani Tefillati, which was subsequently slightly altered in the newer edition.

  15. 15
    Lion of Zion:

    i found it. it’s not masorati, but rather from poalei mizrahi and is the standard liturgy as in rinat yisrael.

    many years ago yeshiva of flatbush printed its own mahzor, which is offset from rinat yisrael with the addition of hallel at night. there is a haskamah from r. goren expressing “satisfaction that the school accepted the directives of the rabbanut harashit, which established to say hallel with a berakhah at night.” but i thought that rabbanut says hallel only during the day (e.g., as in rinat yisrael).

    i think the tikkun you mentioned was published by r. moshe zevi neriah (i have a later edition from 1978). but there is nothing original in it.

  16. 16

    Rav Bar-Hayyim (of kitniyot fame) composed an Al-HaNissim additions several years ago for Yom HaAtzmaout and Yom Yerushalayim. Please see

    He also addresses the halachic aspects in his online shiurim and recently published an article in the Jewish Press on the subject:




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