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Things that are weird in Israel #18:What’s with all the HAMMERS? (Yom HaAtzmaut Edition!)


If this is a hammer, it must be… Yom HaAtzmaut!  Yes, it’s time for our country’s national Hammer Day celebration, the day when children young and old head out at night to buy huge inflatable HAMMERS.

Great, big, blow-up hammers in all sizes, shapes, and colours… okay, just kidding.  Not ALL colours.  Just blue and white.  Blue and white hammers to proclaim freedom throughout the land.  Everywhere you go, kids are bopping one another with these things.  Am I missing something???

Now, I have never seen giant inflatable hammers for other occasions, but I figured it couldn’t be a unique Israeli thing, so I went and Googled other holidays.

I started with the obvious:  “Fourth July hammer.”  Let’s see how the Americans do it.


Not with hammers, apparently.  Okay, there IS one inflatable in this batch:


Getting even more specific, I tried “fourth july hammers inflatable.”  I figured this one couldn’t miss.


A little more on the money, but really… this is a disappointingly generic lot.  Is “Bang, Bang, Bang, High Striker” the message you want to ring out loud and clear on YOUR Independence Day??


Being a proud and patriotic Canadian – we’re turning 150 this July 1st! - I figured that if independence and hammers were a natural pairing, Googling ““canada day” hammer” would be sure to find something.


So, nope… lots of beavers… but no hammers.  But the search DID turn up this troubling image of the 68-year-old Prince Charles, heir to the throne of Canada, with a startlingly gigantic real wooden hammer.  I’m not sure what these girls are doing in the background.


In case you’re wondering, Morfix says beaver is either בּוֹנֶה / boneh = “builder” or בִּיבָר / beivar = “beaver”.  Wales, the country nobody knows about, squashed in next to England, is ווילס / wales in Hebrew and קַמְרִי / Kamri in Welsh.

Next, I tried “Inflatable hammers holiday” – you know, just to see who ELSE celebrates with hammers:


Notice that Row 3, Item 1 is the Israel hammer.  Yay, Israel!  There is also an England hammer here, in Row 1.


Maybe they got the idea from us?

Also (see bottom right), there is apparently an inflatable-dinosaur holiday celebrated somewhere:


And finally… in the most wonderful, rewarding search ever:  “independence hammers.”  Forget about typing “inflatables,” I wanted to see how Israel ranks, graphically, on the world stage when it comes to hammering out independence, period.  And I think you’ll agree that we’ve done PRETTY darn well for ourselves.


Look at all that awesome hammering!

(Ignore the politicians, please - what a downer on a page of such great pix of my home country!)

Flags?  Bunting?  Sure, we’ve got ‘em.


(Help yourself.)

But based on all this painstaking (and breathtaking!) research (consisting of ten minutes’ googling), it is probably fair to conclude that Israel is OBVIOUSLY completely crushing it around the world in inflatable independence-day hammers.

Which brings me to the bigger question:  what do they MEAN?  What are they for?

The obvious connection, in my mind, is the concept of the word “Maccabee,” like the guys from the Chanukah story, as poignantly illustrated in this artist’s rendition of actual historical events. 

Image result for maccabee hammer

Some say “Maccabee” as in “Judah the” means HAMMER.  Others say it’s an abbreviation for “Who’s Like You, O Lord?” (in English, he’d be called Judah WLYOL).  Some just say it’s short for his father’s initials:  Matisyahu Kohen ben Yochanan (MKBY).  In which case, I’d be Tzivia the CPL, because those were my father’s initials.  But if I did put that on my business card, everyone would think it had something to do with accounting and start giving me tax forms to fill in – my nightmare.

So I came up with another explanation for all the hammers that I kind of like.

In the song “If I Had a Hammer,” Pete Seeger (and co-writer Lee Hays) sings of “hammering out danger,” “hammering out warning,” and “hammering out love”… sheesh.  As we say here in Israel, halevai.  If only.  But it’s a nice enough message to think about as kids are running around bopping each other on the head with glowing, blinking, flashing, squeaking inflatable mallets.

In honour of hammering out freedom – which is not at all a bad message, for ourselves or our kids, let’s pay tribute to the original peace-spirited hammerer, Pete Seeger:


And then a fairly literal Hebrew version.  The visuals aren’t great on this video, but you can read the lyrics in Hebrew here

The name of this song, Patish lu haya li, translates as follows:

Patish = פטיש = hammer / Lu = לו = hypothetical (and sometimes poetic) conditional, similar to eelu = אילו / Haya = היה = was / Li = לי = to me.  In other words, it means something very much like… “If only there was to me a hammer.”  (Since Hebrew lacks the verb “to have,” you have to say, “there was” / haya, combined with “to me” / li.) 

Just a little Hebrew lesson to help you celebrate.  Happy Hammer Day!!!

Tzivia / צִיבְיָה


  1. There are fewer than there were decades ago. I haven't even noticed any of late.

    1. Weird. Maybe because they're all up here??? I saw tons, and new this year, spiky blue-and-white "caveman" clubs as well.


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