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Family Day in Israel

Israeli Family Day

In 1951 an 11-year-old Israeli girl named Nechama Frankel wrote a letter to a newspaper. She proposed that Israel establish a special day for mothers. As refugees from Poland, her family was used to honoring mothers and celebrating Mother’s Day as an important occasion. Nechama suggested that Mother’s Day be celebrated on the birthday of Henrietta Szold. Szold was an Israeli heroine. She founded the organization called Youth Aliyah. This organization rescued over 30,000 children from the Nazis. Sadly Henrietta had no children of her own. However, she spent her life championing children’s rights and was considered by many the mother of all the children her organization rescued.

The paper’s response to Nechama’s letter was, “"Remember, children and fathers: On the second day of the [Hebrew] month of Adar 5712, we will celebrate the first Mother's Day in the State of Israel. That day, don't let your mother stand in line, cook, or do laundry; you will take care of all these tasks. That day, try to make your mother proud.” From this point on Israel began the wonderful tradition of annually celebrating mothers. This holiday celebrated the traditional role of women such as caring for the children and the household. It was never an official holiday of the State of Israel, but gained popularity as Israelis liked the idea of giving the mothers in their family a day to relax.

In the 1980s the holiday evolved to Family Day or Yom Mishpacha in Hebrew. The date of the celebration was moved to memorialize the date of Szold’s death, the 30th day of Shevat. Today Family Day celebrates the mutual love inside the family. It honors everything we do for each other in a family and the shared admiration between mothers, fathers and children. It is a special day that we appreciate all our family members by spending time with them. It is not a day to give material gifts, but a day to give the greatest gift we can give our families – our time and attention.

The day is specifically celebrated in kindergartens throughout Israel. Children create art projects and bring photographs of family members to be displayed around the school. On this day parents attend the kindergarten for special programs by the children, songs and activities. At home some families continue the Family Day celebrations by planning special activities to be done with all family members. Some families go on picnics others play games while others read books and learn together. It is a fun time for the whole family.

For everyone who does not have a Family Day in their cultural traditions, why not just pick a special day each year to be your families’ Family Day. Make it your own and plan special activities that are fun and important for your family. In this digital age where families can be in the same house, but distracted by mobile phones, the internet and television, a special designated day to look forward to can be a lot of fun and really bring your family even closer together.

יום משפחה שמח!

Yom Mishpacha Sameach!



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