67-plus-one new reasons I love Israel
I’ve been writing these columns in honor of Independence Day for a decade and a
half, but I never run out of new reasons I love Israel.
Here they are, for Yom Ha’atzmaut 2015, in
no particular order:
1. Who says we’re not traditional? We consume 1,600 tons of
honey and 15,000 tons of apples on Rosh Hashana.
The custom includes Ethiopian immigrants who eat
yemarima yewotet bread, sweetened with honey and favored with spices.
2. Who says we’re not traditional? Seventy-
three percent of us fast on Yom Kippur, 84% in Jerusalem.
3. Diabetic teens want to fast on Yom Kippur and
Ramadan. A new protocol was invented at Hadassah University Medical Center to
allow them to take part in the national abstinence.
4. My supermarket features pins and tape at the
entrance before Succot, anticipating the need to hang up children’s artwork in
the tent-like booths.
ladybugs flew into the swimming pool on Passover, someone shouted, “Look, Moshe
Rabbenu [our teacher Moses] in the water!” because that’s what you call ladybugs
6. At Monday night
women’s swim, the hijabs and sheitels (wigs) share space on the locker-room
7. Robotic vacuum
cleaners are advertised constantly before Passover.
8. The entire Cinema City in Jerusalem changed
over to Passover mode on the same day.
9. When a new pharmacy opened on a trendy
Jerusalem street, across from an old one, the buzz was about whether such close
competition was allowed in Jewish law.
10. Israeli invention: a featherless chicken.
11. Far afield: An Israeli start-up is to
going to build a wave-energy power plant off the Chinese coast. Israel’s GAL
Water technology is purifying water for the Marshall Islands.
12. Our political, security and economic
situation is serious, but politicians used humor to speak to voters.
13. Everyone in the country knows the prime
minister’s favorite flavor of ice cream.
14. Seder guests brought me matza baked by the
prime minister! 15. The news announcers say, “Moadim l’simha,” during Passover,
and everyone knows that the greeting refers to the intermediate days of the
16. When a famous Hebrew
singer dies, his/her music is played all day as a memorial.
17. We treat over 90% of our wastewater, more
than any other country. Our biggest garbage dump has become a terrific park.
18. Our average public healthcare is ranked
superior to that of the United States, and everyone, employed or not, has
19. Specials at trendy
cafés and cinemas for seniors are called “Tuesday with Suspenders.”
20. We take in refugees from both Islamic
State and al-Qaida and give them medical care – Sunni and Shi’ite.
21. When I filled up at an Israeli Arab-run
gas station, a huge freezer of ice cream bars was marked “Kosher for Passover.”
Gas stations give out Haggadot, too.
22. Matza is a big seller in Arab
neighborhood corner stores.
Reported in the newspaper: A speeding driver stopped by police explained that it
was almost too late to burn hametz (the symbolic process of getting rid of
leavened products on the morning of the Seder).
24. A new Israeli stamp features the Cyrus
Declaration from 538 BCE, in which the Persian king allowed a return to Israel,
as reported in the Book of Ezra.
The glue on the stamp is kosher.
25. Big signs off highways announce: “Shmita is observed here” – leaving the
land fallow – and many hurried to plant before the sabbatical year began.
26. Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National
Fund suspends tree-planting for a shmita year.
27. Importing vegetables from Hamas farms isn’t
a peace initiative – it’s a shmita initiative.
28. An Israeli porcupine dug up a 1,400-year-old
29. Israeli invention: a
suit that lets you rappel from your apartment building in case of fire.
30. Israel inventions: supermarket carts
with smartphone chargers.
beggars frequently bless us.
The advertisement to encourage voting says you forfeit your right to gripe if
you don’t vote. Over 72% of us vote, Jews and Arabs together.
33. El Al ground crew and flight attendants
dress up for Purim.
34. TV news
anchors wear costumes on Purim; TV marks Purim with Monty Python movies.
35. Our national junk food Bamba can prevent
a child from developing peanut allergies.
36. Our tech companies had more than 75 “exits”
last year, being bought out by international corporations. According to London’s
Center for Policy Studies, we rank second in the world in producing self-made
billionaires per capita.
a Nigerian man insisted on giving his kidney to an Israeli, only an
ultra-Orthodox rabbi believed him. The recipient was a Druse law student.
38. The mayor of Jerusalem tackled a
terrorist to the ground and protected the city.
39. No hametz allowed. There’s a hametz guard
keeping bread out of the hospitals on Passover, and certain seafood restaurants
didn’t serve beer over the holiday; non-kosher McDonald’s branches switched to
40. Israel news
headline: Holocaust survivor has 100th great-grandchild.
41. Israel news headline: Baby saved from café
terror attack grows up to serve in IDF.
42. Despite complaints about cost of living and
security threats, we have nearly twice as many babies, three per woman, as the
average in other developed countries.
43. Seven species: Israeli scientists have
figured out how to grow grapes in winter – and they’re seedless, too.
44. Seven species: Israeli scientists have
shown that pomegranates help fight hypertension, heart disease, brain
deterioration and heart disease – not quite 613 cures, but getting close.
45. Upbeat Israeli research suggests – with
cautious optimism – that cannabis may kill or slow the development of cancer
cells, not just ameliorate the tough treatment.
46. We have a gazelle herd in a park in the
middle of Jerusalem.
invention: a robot that picks watermelons.
48. Don’t tell those who shout “apartheid”: Gaza
farmers attended a seminar in northern Israel and learned to double their
designers of Pastel Brasserie and Bar at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art won the 2014
International Space Design Award – Idea prize for the world’s best-designed
50. No wonder folks in
Tel Aviv enjoy a beer. Bronze-Age beer mugs were recently discovered in the
51. Saveur Culinary Travel
Awards 2014 named Israel’s airline a winner of the Inflight Wine award.
52. National Geographic listed Tel Aviv as
one of the top 10 seafront city meccas.
53. In 2014, Twitter users from around the world
labeled Tel Aviv one of the top 10 hottest destinations to visit that year.
54. Despite all the beer, beaches and
partying, Tel Aviv won the World Smart City award as part of Smart City Expo in
Barcelona, beating 250 competitors.
55. Nonetheless, the biggest export city isn’t
Tel Aviv; it’s the pioneering city of Petah Tikva, literally the “opening to
56. The Israeli bridge
delegation beat out professional players from around the world, taking the gold
medal at the Sportaccord World Mind Games in Beijing.
57. In Jerusalem, Hebrew University professor
Elon Lindenstrauss won the Fields Medal, the “Nobel Prize” in math.
58. Yshai Oliel won the prestigious Junior
Orange Bowl games in Coral Gables, Florida – considered the unofficial world
championships for tennis. He’s from Ramle.
59. When in Rome: Noa Raviv was chosen as the
“Best Fashion Designer of the Year” at the international 3D Printshow in Paris.
Sarah Avraham of Kiryat Arba won the Women’s World Thai-Boxing Championship in
Thailand; Vladislav Bykanov won the gold medal at the European Short Track Speed
Skating championship in Holland.
60. The IDF gives telephone and roof-knocking warnings to civilians to evacuate
areas while warfare is going on.
61. The Knesset has the largest solar field of any parliament in the world.
62. The Israeli drama Shtisel, about a
family living in Jerusalem’s Mea She’arim neighborhood, was purchased by a
Swedish TV channel.
63. The Pango
app lets us pay parking fees from afar and helps New Yorkers reserve a spot at
64. Simha. We
score high on the world’s happiness tests.
65. We offer sports tours, wine tours, chocolate
tours and now the healthy Salad Trail tour of our country.
66. Israeli road safety company Mobileye (MBLY)
raised $1 billion on NASDAQ. It helps us avoid accidents, but it also showed a
car could go 900 km., from California to Nevada, without a driver. Israel is
also the largest exporter of unmanned aerial systems, surmounting aerospace
giants in the US.
67. Jewish Deaf
Multimedia produced a YouTube clip of the Four Questions for Passover, “Why is
this night different from all other nights?” in sign language.
68. Jewish Agency statistics for 2014 show that
immigration to Israel hit a 10-year high with the arrival of about 26,500 new
immigrants, the largest group arriving from France. Welcome my brothers, welcome