Israel is often referred to as a “Light Unto the Nations,” though it doesn’t have all that much to do with the fact that our national emblem is a menorah.
Rather, Israel has earned these accolades by consistently stepping up to every global and societal challenge as a leader and a force to be reckoned with. Utilizing its thriving technology industry, commitment to sustainability, and universal concern for those in need, Israel leads by example in its tireless pursuit of repairing the world (Tikkun Olam) and being a source of light in the darkest times.
But with great light comes great responsibility.
Israel is a breeding ground of ingenuity and the birthplace of countless truly revolutionary products. The technology that powers mobile devices, irrigation systems, and lifesaving medical diagnostic equipment all hail from the “Start-Up Nation.” But innovation isn’t solely about profit for Israelis. Through its technological and entrepreneurial ventures, Israel leads the charge for the betterment of society at large.
Israel also embraces this crucial leadership role through its commitment to environmental preservation. In recent years, Israel has developed previously unimagined water desalinization technologies, and now recycles over 80% of its wastewater nationally for agriculture. In fact, an Israeli water recycling plant was named a Global Model by the United Nations (yes, THAT United Nations).
But Israelis should be most proud of Israel’s major humanitarian efforts, both domestically and abroad. Israel is world-renown for quickly providing lifesaving aid to countries during times of crisis, cementing their status as true bearers of the light.
In 2010, Israel was the first country to have aid workers on the scene in Haiti following their devastating earthquake. More recently, Israel was also one of the best-represented countries in Nepal following their earthquake.
Yet, Israel’s Tikkun Olam efforts don’t revolve around crisis situations away from home. As a country, we care deeply for people from all walks of life, and work to improve the wellbeing of disadvantaged groups of all kinds. For example, Israelis consistently look for ways to aid residents who are Holocaust survivors, sometimes by simply keeping them company and reading them a book.
Israel also sets the standard for the care of physically and cognitively disabled individuals. Recent proof comes in the form of a visit from a team of Chinese doctors.
ALEH, Israel’s largest network of residential facilities for severely handicapped children, invited the Chinese physicians to Israel to learn about the organization’s groundbreaking functional rehabilitation programs. ALEH’s musical gardens, therapeutic pool, petting zoo and stables, and advanced medical technology fascinated the Chinese doctors, and they asked a battery of questions with the aim of accurately recreating these innovative programs in their Beijing hospital. In just a few hours of touring and instruction, Israeli medical professionals improved the care of the most vulnerable demographic in one of the most densely populated regions in Asia.
It is essential that “best practice” visits like these continue so that Israeli methods of care will continue to lay the foundation for medical centers around the world for years to come. In general, we must never tire, ensuring that we are always focused on the bigger picture: healing the whole world. After all, as the bearers of the light, it is our responsibility.
By sharing innovations in all fields with the world at large, Israel sheds a light on numerous global problems and illuminates the path for other countries to constructively, skillfully, and humanely follow suit. Considering how much progress must still be made in achieving a just world, Israel is faced with quite a challenge. But considering the resilience, resourcefulness, and physical and moral strength of Israel and its people, I believe we are fit for the challenge.