Benji Lovitt
Because the Middle East is Funny
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66 things I love about Israel

Benji Lovitt presents his annual Times of Israel Independence Day roundup of all that charms, delights and touches his soul
Benji Lovitt in full flow (YouTube screenshot)
Benji Lovitt in full flow (YouTube screenshot)

It’s that time of year again, when comedian Benji Lovitt lists things he loves about Israel, and this year’s list (all new, every year) is 66 things long in honor of Israel’s 66th birthday. Enjoy, share the love, and Happy Independence Day from The Times of Israel!

1.  I love that you can see a man in a three-piece Armani suit drinking shoko b’sakit straight out of the bag and not even bat an eyelash.

2.  I love that when the taxi sheirut driver handed me his business card, it had tfilat haderech (the traveler’s prayer) on the back of it. It’s as if he knew…

3.  I love how medusa season falls almost exactly during the three weeks of mourning before Tisha B’av, as if the jellyfish are getting into the holiday spirit themselves.

Soon we’ll remember the destruction of the Temple, but first, pee on my leg.

4.  I love that when I needed a hard surface on which to sign a medical waiver, my doctor handed me a Hagadah. “On all other nights, we use a desk or magazine.”

5.  I love the old school neighborhood makolets which let you pay whenever you want. I just added 400 Krembos to my tab.

6.  I love that “Where’s Waldo?” is translated as “Eifo Efi?” If you can’t find him today, he’s grilling merguez kababim in the park.

Waldo in park
Original photo: Flash 90 / Hadas Parush / Photo editing:

7.  I love that the coolest guy at the party can be the dude named Pinchas who shows up with a 1 kilogram tub of chumus under his arm.

8.  I love how Cofix offered café hafuch for five shekels, causing Aroma to lower their prices in response.  If they start offering five shekel arnona payments, I will streak down Ibn Gvirol.

9.  I love that when I walked into my neighborhood café, the waitress doing a crossword puzzle on her break asked me if Laban was Abraham’s brother. What’s a five-letter word for “the guy who screwed over Yakov”?

10.  I love that the roof of your building could have land mines and rabid dogs and still be an awesome venue for a party.

11.  I love that floating on your back in the Dead Sea provides a great ab workout.


12.  I love the community gardens springing up all over the country. Israel:  Where “going green” means eating ten daily servings of diced cucumbers.

13.  I love that “climate change” in Israel means that we can go to the beach in February.

14.  I love that due to the Russian aliyah of the 1990s, we have movers who are strong as an ox and could also entertain a presidential gala at the Kremlin.

15.  I love moving into an apartment and inheriting a door full of magnets.  After watching three burly Russian men haul my fridge up four flights of stairs, I could really go for some sashimi.

16.  I love how cool Shuk Machaneh Yehuda has become with all the new bars and restaurants. Cucumbers by day, appletinis by night.

17.  I love that same shuk’s sweet, delicious, and totally addictive rugelach. Parents, please speak to your children about responsible consumption. Heroin is a gateway drug to Marzipan.

18.  I love that my entrepreneurship instructor at PresenTense started class with the example “so let’s say you want to start a chumus store…”

19.  I love that the “at” symbol in the email addresses is named for its resemblance to a delicious pastry.

Shoot me a message at b-l-o-v-i-t-t….strudel…..f*** it, let’s get dessert.

20.  I love that on my flight to Israel, the passenger next to me had me hold her baby while she went to the restroom. That will happen on a flight in America when Miley Cyrus moves to Beit Shemesh.

21.  I love the cages on the sidewalks for recycling bottles.  It’s like a ball pit created by Al Gore.

22.  I love that our biggest snowstorm in 50 years resulted in this. If you need a tenth for minyan, hurry up: he’s melting in 20 minutes.

Kotel Snowman
Photo credit: Gili Houpt

23.  I love that men, women, and children can all safely walk home at 2 AM when the greatest danger they face is a DJ blowing out their eardrums.

24.  I love how the first café hafuch you have upon returning to Israel is like a shot of delicious adrenaline injected into your bloodstream. Like Mia Wallace getting stabbed with the epipen, just with more katzefet.

25.  I love that Israel is the smallest country competing to land a spacecraft on the moon for a $30 million prize. Do you think the man on the moon knows where Efi is?

26.  I love that during Purim, my Facebook event list is filled with parties.  Get Pinchas on the phone; we’re going to need a lot of chumus.


27.  I love that Formula 1 held an exhibition in Jerusalem, making roads slightly less dangerous.

28.  I love the clearance sales the grocery stores throw on chametz in the weeks leading up to Pesach. If anyone needs 700 lafas, check out my eBay site.

29.  Speaking of chametz, I love the hide-and-seek game the grocery stores play by covering it with white paper.

1…2…3…4…5…6…7….days. READY OR NOT, HERE I COME!!!!

30.  I love that you can pick up a hitchhiker holding a gun and not think twice about it.

31.  I love the sugar packets with Herzl, Ben-Gurion, and Jabotinsky on them.  If they’d been using Splenda in Basel, we’d still be in exile today.

Zionist sugar2
Photo editing: Paru Digital /Headshot: Steven Winston photography

One of these things is not like the other…   (Look closely.)

32.  I love this country’s diversity which led to my using Google Translate to bridge the communication divide between my Israeli waitress and her Russian customers.

They’ll split the salat quinoa and I’ll have your number.

33.  I love the newly refurbished, historic train station in Jerusalem with restaurants, cafes, and more. I feel bad that the Ottomans couldn’t celebrate their arrival to the Holy City by eating pistachio ice cream at Vaniglia.

34.  I love that the Dallas Mavericks’ Gal Mekel became the second Israeli ever to play in the NBA, joining Omri Casspi of the Houston Rockets. “The stars at niiiight….are Israeliiiiiites….DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS!”

35.  I love that when a meditation leader had me close my eyes and imagine walking in a field, she mentioned that Tu B’shvat was coming.  “Imagine all the tension in your legs disappearing………as the shkedia porachat.”

36.  I love how Tel Aviv will be hosting the biggest Shabbat dinner in recorded history next month. Does anyone know where to park a trough of babaganoush?

37.  I love that my cell auto-corrected “Viber” to “Buber”. I(phone)-Thou.

38.  I love the amazing hotel breakfasts that allow me to sample what an undiscriminating tourist would think were 450,000 of the same white cheese.

39.  I love that while plenty of countries around the world are still run by dictators, the only voice that eight million Israelis will unconditionally follow belongs to Waze.

40.  On that note, I love that Waze agreed to keep its office in Israel after being purchased by Google rather than uproot its 100 employees. Because Supersol holiday gift cards don’t work in Mountain View.

41.  I love that when I meet Jewish Agency shlichim who I’ve only spoken to on the phone or over email, we hug. Get those handshakes outta here…WE’RE FAMILY!!!

42.  I love that Israeli model Gal Gadot will be playing “Wonder Woman” in the upcoming Superman/Batman movie. I wonder if her truth-telling lasso will make shuk workers reveal how much their inventory really costs.

43.  I love how beautiful the Golan becomes in the spring. It’s like the Jolly Green Giant threw up on Mt. Ben-Tal.

44.  I love how people eat communal lunches, kibbutz-style, in the office rather than alone at their desks. Yotam from Accounts Receivable just stepped out to milk a goat.

45.  I love how people disbelievingly say “no” in Arabic.

(Yossi Tarablus, Moty Aharonovitch)

46.  I love that even when the closest population center is a small suburb of Dimona, you can still stop at a Yellow gas station and get a quality café hafuch.

47.  I love that Israelis have no problem illegally downloading the finale of “Breaking Bad” before it’s aired on the West Coast but no pedestrian will dare to jaywalk.

48.  I love the craft fair/garment district that is Nachalat Binyamin. Nowhere else can you buy a spool of sequined taffeta and a wallet made of repurposed Bamba wrappers.

49.  I love that “ladybug” in Hebrew is parat Moshe rabeinu (Moses’ cow) and “praying mantis” is gamal Shlomo (Solomon’s camel). I’m going to name my pet butterfly “Herod’s platypus.”

50.  I love how if you are shomer Shabbat, you can pay your car insurance company for only six days of coverage.

51.  I love how the doors to apartment buildings are left open or unlocked on Shabbat for easy access. Of course it’s safe, the criminals are at dinner too.

52.  I love the new tourist-friendly signs popping up around Tel Aviv making it a more welcoming city. For a gorgeous local, turn right. Or left. Or ahead of you. Or behind you.

street signs
Right: Odelia Yakir, Left: Yohay Sponder

53.  I love that after the third time you run into someone, you’re supposed to buy him/her ice cream. I just ran into the ice cream man for the third time this week. What the hell am I supposed to buy HIM?

54.  I love that two guys at GeekCon created this machine that cuts pita and then dips it into chumus. It’s like Abu Gosh crossed with RoboCop.

55.  I love that Israeli ninth graders won the 2013 international robotics championship for their robotic depiction of a traditional Jewish wedding. No word as to whether the robots wore metallic dragon shirts.

56.  I love that the Israel National Trail is considered one of the top hiking trails in the world by National Geographic. You know who’s not trekking through the Appalachians?  EFI!!!

57.  I love that people eat delicious pumpkin-based dishes year-round, not because we want to scare small children with mutilated fruit.

58.  I love that when my friend freaked out on Facebook in the days before she made aliyah, I wrote “yihyeh b’seder” and it got 9 likes. It was obvious why. Because it would be.

59.  I love that a group can publicly identify themselves as “the Jews” without fearing for their safety.

The Jews: coming to an arena near you

60.  I love that despite the effort of BDS-supporting morons around the world, 2014 will be bringing us Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga, the Rolling Stones, and more. Sorry, BDS, but “you….can’t….get….nooooo…….sa-tis-fac-tion.

61.  I love the immigrant humor shared by olim from around the world. When I asked the German guy behind the deli counter how long he had been here, without missing a beat, he responded “too long” and winked.

62.  I love how in contrast to the American Memorial Day which celebrates barbeques, beaches, and mattress sales, Yom Hazikaron is a serious day to mourn, recognize, and appreciate the lives lost defending this beautiful country.

63.  I love the collective mourning this country went through when the nation’s voice, Arik Einstein, passed away. Uf gozal, Arik

arik einstein
Photo credit: Or Keissar

64.  I love that in the same year that a former Prime Minister was convicted of bribery, we can take pride in our outgoing President, a man who has represented this country with dignity to the world, bringing public figures to Israel who would not have otherwise come and rubbing shoulders with pop stars, heads of state, and technology geniuses. Whatever your politics, there can be no doubt that Shimon Peres is a national treasure, the last member of a historic generation, who at 90 might actually make “ad 120” a prediction, not a blessing.

65.  I love that this country is so darn small that Some Dumb Oleh can watch the sun rise in Tel Aviv, set in Jerusalem, and take a selfie with the president, all in the same day.


66.  I love that I’ve had this once in a lifetime experience and it’s not over yet.

Benji Lovitt is a comedian and writer. Contact him at to book a show or educational workshop about life in Israel. For previous entries in this series, check out the 65, 64, 63, 62, 61 and 60 things Benji loves about Israel. Why wait till next year’s list? “Like” him here for regular, hilarious updates, follow here for Twitter.

About the Author
Since making aliyah in 2006, Benji Lovitt has performed stand-up comedy and educational programs for groups including Jewish Federations, synagogues, Masa Israel Journey, and Birthright Israel. His perspectives on aliyah and Israeli society have been featured on Israeli TV and radio and in publications such as USA Today, Time Magazine, the BBC, and more. During 2014's Operation Protective Edge, his humorous observations on the war led to his being called in Israel "the only reason to go on Facebook.”
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