In honor of Israel’s 65th birthday

65+1 new reasons why I love Israel 2013... in no particular order

Israel flag 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Israel flag 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
1. Young aboriginal leaders of the Norway House Cree Nation in Manitoba, Canada, came to Israel to learn “how an ancient people can maintain their heritage while embracing the modern world, and in so doing achieve selfdetermination.”
2. We Israelis talk with our hands, so a start-up called Pointgrab is developing technology so our computers understand our hand gestures.
3. We like to talk, period. Six heads of the hush-hush Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) star in a movie that reveals secrets of their careers. Even the director said he was startled that they agreed.
4. Intensity. We’re ranked first by Bloomberg in “research and development intensity.”
5. While researching, we each drink about 4.5 kilos of coffee per year. The new Cups Tel Aviv app will make that easier, offering all the coffee you can drink at a fixed price.
6. Mobileye Inside: Luxury European BMWs and Volvos will now protect themselves with Israeli anti-crash technology.
7. We still surprise the pundits. The famous, foreign Israel experts wrongly predicted our election results.
8. Whenever we have a few weeks of relative peace, our minds and hearts shift quickly from security to social issues.
9. We are the first to arrive to help at a foreign catastrophe, yet it took us 50 days to form a government and no one seemed in a rush.
10. The first decision our new government made was to help Holocaust survivors.
11. Our government coalition is made up of two parties with “home” in their names. There’s also one with future, and one with movement.
12. The critically acclaimed US TV series based on an Israeli series is called Homeland.
13. An Academy Award-winning director is about to film his first TV pilot here. It’s called Tyrant.
14. The Syrian leader is also called “tyrant.” We’re taking in medical patients from his country, even though they’re officially the enemy.
15. Kibbutz Dan is exporting caviar in a market once dominated by Iran.
16. Overheard recently: “Meet me at the corner of the Palmah and the Hebrew Brigade.”
17. Don’t try to outsmart Israel-developed WatchLock. It sends an “I’m being picked” text message to the owner anywhere in the world.
18. When an Israeli won the gold medal for disabled rowers in Italy, no recording of “Hatikva” had been prepared for the ceremony. So she took the mike and sang the song (beautifully) herself.
19. Prize-winning Kharta the cow produced 18,208 liters of milk after getting post-traumatic stress treatment. She lives on a kibbutz near the border with Gaza.
20. The illegal foreign workers come mostly from countries that prohibit them from traveling to Israel. They don’t believe the propaganda. Neither do we! 21. Despite the ban, Iranians find ways to listen to Rita, the Israeli star singing in Persian.
22. Israel is exporting sugar to Holland for Dutch chocolate, and to Morocco for sweet tea.
23. We don’t beat them on the field, but we send the architectural simulation system to build soccer stadiums in Brazil.
24. Israeli Boris Gelfand is among the top world chess champions. He was born in Minsk, Belarus.
25. Four sixth-graders from the Ma’aleh Hatorah school in Ma’aleh Adumim took first place at the seventh annual MindLab Olympics international championships, a “thinking games” competition for children from 10 countries.
They’re also good at Torah.
26. Israel has won first prize in the Mindlab competition for seven years.
27. Bank of Israel chief Stanley Fischer turned down a raise.
28. A sign on a moving truck: Hamovil Ha’artzi, the National (water) Carrier.
29. Says the international advisory committee from MSNBC: Israel is a paradise for prisoners.
30. Despite the threat from Iran, 2012 was the best year ever for tourists.
31. Even our most biting satirical show is called A Wonderful Country.
32. Yes, we care. Israeli scientists have brought the aptly named Yarkon bleak fish back from the brink of extinction.
33. Autumn signs on the city buses say “Shana tova” – “Have a good year.”
34. Our president carries an organ donor card.
35. Flying high. A skirt-wearing religious woman passed the elite pilot’s course and became a navigator despite pressure that “a religious girl couldn’t do this.”
36. The world junior tennis champ is a 12-year-old from Ramle, who learned the game in a center for kids from the periphery.
37. Miss Israel came to Israel from Ethiopia when she was 12. She’s an orphan, brought up by her grandparents.
38. Said beauty queen served as an officer in the IDF.
39. The winner of the first season of The Voice Israel singing competition made aliya from Canada a few days before competing. The winner of the second season is an Israeli Arab from Acre.
40. How’s this for popular fall offerings on the Jerusalem calendar? Ten different lectures on repentance.
41. For sale at my supermarket: special washing powder for tzizit. For sale at the tourist shops: sky-blue tzizit with authentic snail dye.
42. For sale at fine jewelers: a Star of David made from ancient rubble from the City of David’s archeological site.
43. For sale in Jerusalem: bathing suits for modest women. The manufacturer has Jewish and Arab customers, and received an order recently from Qatar.
44. Archeologists recently found the 2,700-year-old temple of a community that lived in Motza, west of Jerusalem.
45. A property developer recently advertised for an entire community to move into a housing development west of Jerusalem: Motza.
46. In a country where many citizens grew up without democracy, we get a holiday on Election Day (and deserve it).
47. An Arab friend and I are swapping Hebrew and Arabic Dora the Explorer DVDs to improve our family language proficiency.
48. The light rail stops are written in Hebrew, Arabic and English.
49. Patient arriving from Moscow at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem instead of the US: “The care is good and everyone speaks Russian.”
50. Land of opportunity: The new head of the emergency room at Hadassah is the oldest of 11 children and grew up in a Galilee village here. His father only finished fourth grade and his mother never learned to read or write. He and three of his siblings are doctors. (He speaks Russian, too.) 51. The cook-off in MasterChef Israel involved a German immigrant who converted from Catholicism to Judaism, a hijab-wearing Israeli Arab nurse and a very religious Jew from a family with 14 children. It was the most popular show of the year.
52. No tempter of Eve, this serpent: The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology’s Snake Robot crawls under wreckage to find trapped people.
53. When locusts arrived before Passover, it wasn’t just an agriculture problem as in other countries. Here everyone connects them to the Ten Plagues in the Bible.
54. Israel’s submission to the Academy Awards, the film Fill the Void, was made by an Orthodox, head-covering woman, and offers an insider’s view of the dilemmas facing people who don’t have TVs or go to the movies.
55. Celeb chef Shaul Ben-Aderet learned to cook when his Iraqi grandmother babysat for him. She didn’t have a TV, so she kept him busy cooking.
56. You might not find Borat in Kazakhstan, but you will find a branch of the Israeli café Aroma. There are 10 Israeli Castro shops in Thailand. Go figure.
57. American immigrant and cryptography expert Prof. Shafi Goldwasser won the Turing Prize, the “Nobel Prize” for computing. In addition to her work on complexity, she’s a co-inventor of the theory of zero-knowledge proofs.
Go figure.
58. Who would have guessed all that heat and unrelenting sun would be a benefit? Kibbutz Ketura is turning its sunshine into microalgae antioxidants and fields of energy.
59. Tel Aviv Greeters – offering a free tour of the Tel Aviv they love – include hip youngsters and cultured senior citizens.
All for free.
60. On US President Barack Obama’s recent visit, he saw robots carrying matza. Do they also seek out hametz? 61. When the presidential car broke down, Moti Towing Service came to the rescue.
62. Even a missile-weary, skeptical population like ours can enjoy a feel-good presidential visit.
63. We’re still honoring the Righteous Among the Nations. Yad Vashem recently recognized a Wehrmacht soldier who saved Jews in Poland.
64. I keep getting this message on email, and it’s not code: The irises are blooming in the Galilee.
65. Fifty thousand Israelis reputedly live in India, but the lost tribe of Bnei Menashe Jews from northeastern India are coming home. They trace their Jewish roots back 2,700 years.
66. When explaining the Holocaust to a kindergarten-age grandchild, I could end with, “... and now we have a country of our own.”
The author is a Jerusalem writer who focuses on the wondrous stories of modern Israel. She serves as the Israel director of public relations for Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America. The views in her columns are her own.