As a child in a Jerusalem apartment building, my neighbors and I had an Independence Day ritual. We used to watch the Mount Herzl ceremony on black-and-white television (color broadcast started only in 1983). Minutes before the MC officially ended Memorial Day and launched Independence Day, we ran to the roof. We cleared cobwebs and pigeon drippings, slid aside several dusty red tiles, stuck our heads in the window we created, and through the pine canopy, saw the modest firework show lighting the sky in multicolor. We then walked to downtown Jerusalem to join strangers in dancing circles, street snacking, and silly pranks.
We celebrated into the night, and once we were teens we celebrated through the night. It was my favorite holiday, a secular holiday that expressed unity and strength, communality in grief and celebration, taking pride in collective accomplishments and common purpose.
Over the years, Israel changed, and with it the character of the holiday. And so did I.