JERUSALEM, Israel – Israel transitioned Wednesday night from a somber Memorial Day to joyous Independence Day celebrations.
Crowds gathered at bars, restaurants, and other entertainment venues to celebrate 73 years since the modern Jewish State was formed. Last year, Israel’s usual festive Independence Day celebrations were virtual as the country battled coronavirus infections. This year, most of Israel’s
coronavirus restrictions have been lifted due to the country’s successful vaccination campaign.
Israel paid tribute to Pfizer during a state Independence Day ceremony, thanking the pharmaceutical company for helping much of the nation return to normalcy.
“I am honored that you have chosen to pay tribute to Pfizer at this Independence Day ceremony. Along with Jews around the world, I take immense pride in Israel,” Pfizer's CEO Albert Bourla. “This year the partnership between Pfizer and Israel produced yet another groundbreaking achievement. Together we are demonstrating that through mass vaccination we can defeat the COVID-19 pandemic and save lives.”
Bourla, a son of Jewish Holocaust survivors from Greece, worked with Israeli leaders to supply the country with most of its coronavirus vaccines.
The Independence Day celebrations continue Thursday, and millions of Israelis flocked to beaches and parks for picnics and barbeques. Israel’s air force performed flyovers across the country “to salute all the citizens of Israel,” a spokesperson for the military said.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin sent a special message to Israelis and Jews around the world during Wednesday's ceremony.
“We are still building our modern state in our ancient homeland, a state that is Jewish and democratic, democratic and Jewish, in the same breath, at the same time, and you are all full partners in this effort,” he said.
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