I believe in celebrating Yom HaAtzmaut.
No, I do not say Hallel. There is no mention in Shulchan Aruch to do so. Yes, I do say tachanun. There is no mention in Shulchan Aruch not to do so.
Nevertheless, it is a day off of work with full pay and that is certainly something worth celebrating.
Of course, when we do not need to go to work and all the stores, banks, and government offices are closed, and half of your kids (the female half) are home from school, there is more opportunity and incentive to ditch out to the beis midrash and learn and there is little excuse not to. And so, I was able to put in some extra Torah time in the early part of the day.
Still, even a secular holiday can be חצי לה' וחצי לכם and since we do not celebrate July 4th around here, I took up a very close friend's invitation to his mangal (barbecue) in Kochav HaShachar. (I also have a weakness for American kosher hot dogs).
These friends in Kochav HaShachar were actually referenced on page 68 of my book. The husband was my roommate and chavrusa when I was in Mir Yeshiva back in '81 and shared all the adventures that I wrote about. He is most certainly a chareidi by Kochav HaShachar standards (and mine) though perhaps not by Harry Maryles's. He told me that he "accidentally missed" the regular shacharis minyan and didn't have a chance to say Hallel. But he didn't say tachanun, either. There were 2 brissin in Kochav HaShachar this morning. (From 2 different families, a very rare phenomenon in a small Moshav).
Going out to Kochav HaShachar is a breathtaking venture in more ways than one. For one thing it is located on the wild side of the security fence where there have been known to be fireworks even when it is not Yom HaAtzmaut. In fact, along the way, by the turnoff to the Tapuach junction, there is a monument to a woman named Edith Mizrachi, HY"D, at the spot where she was murdered some years ago. This is a bit unnerving for us timid city mice who dwell in the "relative security" of Har Nof. Of course, Kochav HaShachar's most recent casualty was one of the 8 Mercaz Harav Kedoshim who was taken in Kiryat Moshe which is a whole lot closer to Har Nof (like walking distance) than it is to Kochav HaShachar.
But what is more breathtaking is the scenery of the drive. Kochav Hashachar is located smack in the middle of the north Judean Hills and, even if the Judean Hills are not the Alps, they are still very majestic. On one hand it is beautiful to look at a limitless expanse of unmarred and unpopulated natural landscape that seems to be standing guard over Yerushalayim just as Dovid HaMelech says (Tehillim 125:2):
ירושלים הרים סביב לה וה' סביב לעמו מעתה ועד עולם.
On the other hand, it's a bit disconcerting to come out of the congestion of Yerushalyim and see such an expanse of usable inhabitable land that is our nachala and to be forced to neglect it. It's not like the Yishmaelim need it or use it and, regardless, there is plenty of room for everybody.
One interesting thing about the trip is that I noticed that it seems the general population is becoming more G-d-fearing. I noticed a number of motorcycles along the way and - guess what??!! - they were all mehadrin!
That's right! Some of them were men only but even those that were mixed, every one of them kept the same protocol: the men were in the front and the women were in the back. Not only that, but all the women had their hair covered - even if nothing else was - and not with shaitels, mind you. They all had these snoods made out of very hard plastic and they even had lucite shields to cover their faces. For head covering, they put even the women in Saudi Arabia to shame.
What gevaldiga mesiras nefesh for tznius! I saw Kedoshim Tihiyu with every motorcycle. Now, if even the motorcycles can be mehadrin - why not the buses?