So Israel is the fourth best place in the world to raise kids. And earlier this year, it was ranked the fifth happiest in the world. People who don't know Israel are always shocked to see statistics like these. But Israelis know their country is a paradise for kids - after all, they made it that way.

Jews as a cultural group are exceptionally child oriented. Two common phrases found throughout the Jewish Bible and liturgy are "L'Dor v'dor" (From generation to generation), and "You shall teach this to your children..." After 3000 years of following these instructions, virtually every part of Jewish culture and custom has a component of teaching and entertaining children. It is only natural that the Jewish state would manifest that value.

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Israel is kid friendly at every level. Every neighborhood and village has a community center with sports facilities, recreational activities, and usually a swimming pool. Each will also likely have a scouting base for youth groups to meet. There are playgrounds and parks almost everywhere you look. Even shopping malls are kid friendly attractions, frequently offering indoor climbing and play structures, gaming arcades, ice cream shops, and of course movies. Public squares often sport some kid's attraction, such as a splash pad. And of course, most of the country is within a short distance of a lovely beach.

In Israel, kids are not just tolerated but are welcomed anywhere and everywhere. Museums offer maps for kids and kids specialty exhibits. The major national hotel chains offer kids' clubs similar to those found on cruise ships or all-inclusive resorts. Even the fanciest restaurants will have some crayons and paper available for the younger set.


Three times a year, there are week-long holidays during which every town and city rolls out extra entertainment for the kids: film festivals, music shows, dance competitions, street fairs, sports events, and kids' theater can be found almost anywhere - often for free or low cost. Many of these events are subsidized by the local municipalities.

And then there is the candy. Israelis love sweets, and they don't deny them to their kids. This tiny country produces some of the best chocolate, ice cream, and bakery products in the world. And although American parents might find it shocking at first, it is perfectly ordinary here for a stranger to offer a kid a lollipop or toffee for no reason other than to make a kid smile. Summer camps give the campers an ice pop every day. Elementary schools traditionally serve a 10 a.m. snack of bread with chocolate spread. What kid wouldn't be happy in a place like this?

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