The Human Spirit: 62 reasons I love Israel

Righteous of the Nations who saved Jews in the Holocaust can move here, no matter their age or health.

In no particular order:
1. The head of the Jewish Agency is a former Soviet Prisoner of Zion.
2. Among the nation’s hit songs is “Mi She’amda,” a Pessah Seder song about divine deliverance from all those who want to destroy us.
3. Highway billboards before Pessah tout kosher for Pessah pastry.
4. Other highway billboards show competing pictures of deceased rebbes and include phone numbers.
5. Formerly anti-religious kibbutzim advertise glatt kosher Pessah programs.
6. The IDF and the police sent a field hospital to earthquake traumatized Haiti. It was a 15-hour flight, but our hospital was up and running first.
7. The medical team on board used the long flight to figure out possible solutions to problems they might encounter.
8. The very first tent in the Haiti field hospital was an operating theater, set up by nurse Reuven Gelfond. When he finished six hours later, the line of patients was so long he set up a second and then a third.
9. The same nurse magically turned surgical nails into life-saving surgical screws by finding the exactly right calibrated tool in the rubble of a small workshop. He’d never been to Haiti before. He gave credit to God.
10. The Israeli medical staff claimed that experience saving lives in the intifada helped them cope with mass trauma in Haiti.
11. On Friday night, while they waited for their equipment to arrive, the Israeli team made Kiddush in a soccer field using those little bottles of wine you get on El Al which the crew had left them.
12. One of Israel’s key surgeons in Haiti is an immigrant from Siberia, a former Boy Scout, who also serves in the IAF’s rescue unit.
13. The first master’s degree student to have presented her work in the prestigious US National Institute of Science is a haredi woman from a Jerusalem family with 11 children.
14. We may be litterers, but 98 percent of the public takes some action to protect the environment.
15. On the eve of Independence Day, the amount of meat about to be grilled is announced on the national news.
16. A survey reported on our nation’s favorite grill products. The winner was hot dogs, followed by steak. Kabob came in third. Where has shishlik gone?
17. I have one Ben-Gurion Airport card that knows my fingerprints for passport control and another one that knows my eyeball for luggage check-in.
18. Interviewed on national radio in the US, the head of security at Ben-Gurion advised colleagues abroad to look more at the passengers than their luggage.
19. At the airport, you can keep your shoes on and no one asks you to remove your head covering.
20. El Al has branded itself “the most at home in the world” because despite our desire for exotic travel, we miss Israel the moment we leave.
21. El Al sent 15 extra jets to Europe during the Iceland volcanic eruption to bring Israelis home for Independence Day.
22. The prime minister’s son was a finalist in the International Bible Contest with which we celebrate Independence Day.
23. Credit rater MSCI recently named Israel a “developed market.”
24. The Israel Museum offers pre-Pessah camp where real artists work with kindergarten kids.
25. Fring, an Israeli company, not only runs VoIP calls over a data connection, it allows protesters in Teheran to reach Facebook and Twitter, which the Iranian government has blocked.
26. An Israeli invention, an exoskeleton suit, allows paraplegics to walk.
27. The world’s largest question-and-answer site,, is an Israeli invention.
28. The world’s largest question-and-answer program about Jewish law, the Responsa Project, is an Israeli invention.
29. The world’s largest plate of humous was created by 50 Jewish and Arab chefs who got together in Abu Ghosh to prepare a four-ton plate. They served it in a satellite dish.
30. Israeli skaters Alexandra and Roman Zaretski were crowned ice dance champions at the 2009 Harbin Winter Universiade, ahead of the Russian ice dancers.
31. An Israeli company – Elenilto – will be developing abandoned iron mines in Liberia. An Israeli company – Max Brenner – is selling chocolate in Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. An Israeli company – Sabon – is selling homemade soap in Manhattan.
32. At the end of Israeli nature hikes, you’ll usually find a modest pool of water and a well-stocked ice-cream truck.
33. The IDF sent text messages and made phone calls to civilians to warn them to get out of the way of attacks on launching pads in Gaza.
34. Many thousands of grateful men and women mourned the recent death of Clara Hammer, a 100- year-old Jerusalemite dubbed the Chicken Lady because she raised money for Shabbat food, fixing the world two chickens at a time.
35. In 1913, two Hadassah nurses were sent from America to deal with flies in the eyes of children with trachoma. Today, Hadassah researchers are using stem cells to help cure macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in America.
36. The first showroom for Better Place, manufacturers of the electric car invented by Shai Agassi, has opened. It’s in Ramat Hasharon. But you can see the cars in Tokyo competing with Japanese cars.
37. There’s a new cooking school in the heart of Jerusalem’s Mahaneh Yehuda open-air market. Plenty of fresh produce.
38. New adventure in Galilee: making handmade chocolate.
39. Elite Chocolate was created by immigrants who wanted to bring sweetness to the Galilee pioneers.
40. In March, story hour in Modi’in had the diverse preschoolers practicing the Pessah Four Questions.
41. Vineyards in Chile and California are protecting buds from the cold with Israeli technology, a drip irrigation system which creates a freezing igloo.
42. At home, sophisticated vintners still use the old-fashioned biblical term hilulim for the year’s first wine and the biblical tirosh for grape juice.
43. In the corner store near my home in Jerusalem, Felix, the owner, was busy explaining the reason for eating milk products on Shavuot to preschoolers who were shopping on their own.
44. Colleagues of mine who hadn’t known my mother drove hours on a workday for her funeral.
45. When my daughter needed me at the hospital to give birth during my mother’s shiva, I came with my torn blouse, and the staff offered their condolences.
46. Even at a posh modern wedding in the port in Tel Aviv, the usher had a list of those in mourning who would only be coming to the huppa ceremony and not to the meal.
47. Even luxury baby shops offer Jewish amulets.
48. Friends used to bring us disposable diapers from the US; today Israeli baby clothes are for sale in Bloomingdales.
 49. The Ramle-Lod flea market moves from city to city, but never changes its name or its style.
51. No one thinks it’s strange to see a soldier, a Palestinian and a hassid sharing a bench in the waiting room of a hospital clinic.
52. A mere 10 days on a free Birthright Israel trip can change a person’s life.
52. The students at the yeshiva in Kiryat Shmona stayed through the rocket fire for the entire Second Lebanon War to help the elderly.
53. The rugged chief of General Staff of the IDF sang an emotional song to the nation in honor of Independence Day.
54. We have more inventions per person than any other country. Just one, the BabySense system, helps protect infants around the world from sudden infant death syndrome.
55. The UN, which rarely bestows praise on Israel, named it the world’s most efficient recycled water user in a report for World Water Day.
56. According to The New York Times, Tel Aviv has become one of the world’s foremost entrepreneurial hot spots. It has been named by Forbes as one of the world’s top party cities.
57. According to Saul Singer and Dan Senor, who wrote Start-Up Nation, the secret of Israel’s economic success is “the unique ethos of the military-reserve system, under which taxi drivers can command millionaires and 23-year-olds can train their uncles. Camaraderie fostered in youthful service, together with ingrained audacity, transfers to civil life. In addition, a cosmopolitan mind-set, learned from travel around the world, produces secure international connections.”
58. The tourist in Jerusalem’s veteran Chalifa Shoe Store ahead of me was carrying back six pairs of shoes for friends in the US.
59. Returning home from Ben-Gurion Airport, the taxi driver routinely fills you in on all the news you’ve missed.
60. In a country with more museums per capita than anywhere else,there’s now a shofar museum at the Odem Forest in the Golan Heights.
61. Righteous of the Nations who saved Jews in the Holocaust can move here, no matter their age or health.
62. Israeli media reported recently that the IAF has started practicingrapid refueling, of a type that would only be used in a sustainedaerial attack on a distant enemy.
63. David Pur, the oldest man alive, lives in Israel. He’s 115. His advice: Don’t lose your optimism. We won’t.
The author is a Jerusalem writer who concentrates on the wondrous stories of Modern Israel and its people.