INDEPENDENCE DAY: 71 + 1 NEW REASONS I LOVE ISRAEL
By Barbara Sofer
May 3, 2019
1. Israel's Watergen machine that pulls water out of thin air was sent to California firefighters at the 2018 Camp Fire, the state's most destructive wildfire ever.
2. Families from the Hadar Ganim neighborhood of Petah Tikva went south to Moshav Shuba to plant trees and set up a communal public garden after the fire damage caused by kites from Gaza.
3. The American Theater Wing's Tony Award for best musical went to The Band's Visit, based on a funky Israeli movie.
4. The original plot of The Band's Visit hinges on a bus information clerk who misunderstands the Egyptian visitor's pronunciation of "Petah Tikva."
5. Petah Tikva, the "mother of all settlements," is Israel's leading city in terms of positive migration and the most in demand measured by mortgage requests.
6. The Jerusalem YMCA has a kosher certificate.
7. The Israeli television series On the Spectrum won the top prize at the Series Mania Festival in Lille, France.
8. The Israel TV series Shtisel, about a religious family in the Geula neighborhood in Jerusalem, has become a cult favorite on Netflix.
9. In 1882, Baron Edmond (Benjamin) de Rothschild sent French experts to survey the land, and sent his own viticulturists to plant vineyards. Today new wineries are being opened by French immigrants.
10. An IDF soldier who found the afikomen at his army base's Passover Seder was rewarded with a day's leave/freedom.
11. The IDF distributed 10 tons of dried fruit to its soldiers on Tu B'shvat.
12. In a $7 billion exit, Flavors and Fragrances of New York bought Frutarom, founded in 1933 in Haifa, providing flavor and scents to food. One of its specialties is "savory."
13. Tel Aviv start-up Tastewise tracks the latest culinary trends by monitoring social media chatter, recipe requests and feedback from restaurants. Says CEO Alon Chen: Watch Yemenite zhug become the new sriracha.
14. Golan Heights Distillery makes Brewer's whiskey in "Spicy with humus flavor."
15. Visitors to Israel can taste authentic home-cooked Israeli meals though a website called Betzavta, which means "together."
16. The Lancet medical journal: Israel is the country with the lowest rate of diet-rated deaths.
17. The parent company for Oreos, Cadbury and Toblerone is teaming up with the Israeli food tech incubator the Kitchen to develop new opportunities for snacking.
18. The classic Israeli Bamba peanut snack had to go in high production to help babies abroad avoid allergies up to a million bags a day.
19. Ice cream flavors in Israel include Bamba, arak, watermelon and Bulgarian cheese, labane and zaatar.
20. Israeli's sweetest tomatoes are watered with salty water in the Negev.
21. The world's largest salt cave was discovered near the Dead Sea where the biblical Mrs. Lot was turned into a pillar of salt.
22. Israeli Agrotop is supplying insulated prefabricated housing for the Clean Chicken Egg Production Factory in Phu Tho, Vietnam.
23. Netta Barzilai reportedly felt no connection to her Eurovision winning song Toy until she added the chicken sounds.
24. Netta Barzilai became a hero to girls and women around the world with her song and performance.
25. Prince William reportedly wanted to meet Netta Barzilai.
26. The Shalva Band, eight talented musicians with disabilities, were finalists in this year's Rising Star competition for Eurovision.
27. The Shalva Band won the hearts of the nation, endorsing inclusivity.
28. Whether the Shalva Band could perform on Shabbat became a subject of national news in a country with no shortage of news.
29. Despite their celebrity, Shalva Band drummer is back working at the trendy Café Shalva, called A Taste of Harmony.
30. Israelis invented a drone that delivers medical supplies in Rwanda.
31. A sign in my super-kosher supermarket in Jerusalem: "Dear customers. We may be out of poultry products because of the holiday of Eid al-Fitr."
32. American fighter pilots are using Israeli helmets that let them lock a missile onto a target aircraft by looking at it. The US Army will be equipping its M1 Abrams battle tanks with Israel's WindGuard Active Protection System.
33. Israelis flew to Thailand with secret technology in their suitcases to rescue 12 boys lost in a cave for two weeks.
34. Israelis were responsible for broad acceptance of the penalty kick tactic for breaking ties in the World Cup, like last year's.
35. The 2018 World Lacrosse Championship took place in Netanya.
36. A higher percentage of children in Israel are born to older parents and more-educated parents compared to any other OECD country.
37. In Israel, pregnant women go to the head of the line in supermarkets, shops and banks.
38. New research: Israeli couples have more intimate relations than couples in most of the Western world.
39. Fill up your car on Friday and get a free newspaper and a discounted challah from the attendant.
40. All this year: Israel's men's gymnastics team won a gold medal in the World Championship in Antwerp, defeating China and Russia. Israeli gymnast Linoy Ashram won her second gold medal at the Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup in Minsk. Three Israeli teens came home with medals from the 2018 Youth Olympic Games held in Buenos Aires. Israel won the silver medal for artistic swimming competition in Budapest.
41. Contestants in the Special Olympics are invited to the President's House to cheer them on.
42. Popular bakery chain in Ashdod: Boutique haPita.
43. A kosher food truck provides summer picnic food in Jerusalem's delightful Hinnom Valley.
44. There's an app for Mahaneh Yehudah shoppers.
45. The otherwise grim parking garage of my supermarket features a large Biblical wall mural.
46. The audience at the Jerusalem Cinematheque applauded while watching a documentary in which the first hassidic woman won an election as a judge in Brooklyn.
47. Brooklyn Bridge is piloting the use of a Tel Aviv-start-up's eco-friendly concrete developed by Israeli marine biologists.
48. Israel has a bobsled team and it wants to compete in the Olympics.
49. The Foreign Affairs Ministry joked on April 1 that Israeli technology had created cars fueled with hummus.
50. Refundit, Israel-developed app to get your VAT back by mobile device, wins Travel Tech Start-Up at the United Nations.
51. Sharp-eyed teens found a 1,600-year-old gold coin while hiking in the Galilee and turned it over to the Israel Antiquities Authority, (IAA).
52. A sharp-eyed woman walking in Beit She'an found a partly buried Roman bust. She also called the IAA, and together they found a second bust (late Roman, 3rd-4th century).
53. Religious Aliza Bloch became the first woman mayor of Beit Shemesh, winning with the support of her former students now serving in the IDF.
54. Four women became IDF Tank Commanders.
55. Drones plagued London's Gatwick Airport; the Israelis were called in for help.
56. Israeli judoka Sagi Muki, with an Israeli flag on his uniform, won a gold medal in the 81-kilo weight class at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam. "Hatikva" was played for the first time in the United Arab Emirates.
57. Tel Avivian Tom Oren, 24, won the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz International Piano Competition one of jazz's highest honors.
58. Long-distance 1: Israel's TytoCare digital stethoscope, which diagnoses a patient and sends the data electronically to a remote physician, has received European, Canadian and US approval.
59. Long-distance 2: A Hadassah ER doc daily diagnoses cases in Syria and Iraq on WhatsApp.
60. Israel's moon spacecraft contained a disk with the whole Bible, pictures by Israeli kids, and the travelers' prayer.
61. McDonald's Corporation made its biggest-ever acquisition: Israeli AI startup Dynamic Yield, which develops personalization and decision logic technology.
62. Swedish connection: Ikea teams up with Israeli innovators to make furniture for people with disabilities. Sweden's first electric road, led by a Swedish subsidiary of Israeli Electreon Wireless, recharges electric trucks and buses while they are driving.
63. Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Israel, Russia, United States and Ukraine are using Israel's Taranis high-precision aerial surveillance imagery to protect crops from insects, disease and bad nutrition. Taranis founder Ofir Schlam is a fourth-generation farmer who would wake up at 5 a.m. to search through his family crops for caterpillars. His keen eyes made him a surveillance image detector in the IDF.
64. The Kotel is cleaned before Passover.
65. Skyline Robotics developed OZMO robots to clean windows in skyscrapers.
66. Toy giants LEGO and Kinder (inside the eggs) are both seeking new toy ideas from students Jerusalem's Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design. When President Reuven Rivlin visits leaders abroad, he gives them Bezalel-designed glass shofars.
67. Leave your wallet home but bring your phone to Tel Aviv's Link Hotel. No cash or reception. You let yourself into your room and turn on your own air conditioning. It doesn't, however, turn down the beds.
68. Israel's rocket to the moon was listed among the impending landings on the board at Ben-Gurion Airport.
69. Thousands of Israelis turn up for funerals of Holocaust survivors and lone soldiers they never met.
70. We celebrate democracy with a day off from work.
71. In international business courses, Israeli chutzpah is touted as a major value for star-up entrepreneurs. It helps overcome fear of failure.
72. Next year in Jerusalem: Jerusalem is the world's fastest-growing tourism destination. Make your reservation now!
Hag Ha'atzmaut Sameah! Happy Independence Day!