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

It's this year's annual list of the country's quaint quirks and strange twists -- as seen through the eyes of funnyman Benji Lovitt

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 67 things long in honor of Israel’s 67th birthday. Enjoy, share the love, and Happy Independence Day from The Times of Israel!

1. I love that so many restaurants provide you with wet wipes after your meal. I just ate chumus ful and now I’m going to take a shower.

2. I love that in Hebrew, Goldilocks is called “Zahava”, and Rumpelstiltskin, “Ootz Li Gootz Li”. And then there’s everybody’s favorite, “The Three Little Pigs”, “Hashlishia HaTraifit”.

3. I love that this exit shares the name with an Ashkenazi egg noodle dish.

Kugel Road. Next exit, Kreplach Boulevard

4. I love that offices plan a Yom Kef, a fun day of bonding for their teams outside the office. Profits and losses on Sunday, sundaes and yoga on Tuesday.

5. I love that every four years, you can’t walk a meter without seeing the World Cup projected on a screen somewhere. You haven’t lived till you’ve seen Messi score an equalizer on the Kotel.

6. I love that in the “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” when Janet says, “If only we hadn’t made this journey,” Israelis yell “dayenu!” Either she’s about to sing “Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me” or it’s almost time for “Adir Hu”.

7. I love city initiatives to improve quality of life such as this books-on-wheels at the beach. Next week, they’re bringing the artik guy to the National Library.

Beach library

8. I love that thanks to Hamas, Egypt and Israel have found something we can agree on. Put Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in “Game of Thrones” and he’d reunite the House of Lannister.

9. I love that Ichilov Hospital admitted Ismail Haniyeh’s daughter for emergency treatment. I’m getting my appendectomy in Damascus next week.

10. I love that the Sourasky Medical Center developed a pill to combat constipation that has no side effects. If you’re looking for beta testers, a seat just opened up at my Seder.

11. I love that Ben & Jerry released charoset-flavored ice cream. You can take your kosher-for Passover fruit jellies and suck ’em. (No, really, that’s what they’re for.)

12. I love how in preparation for Shavuot, the Israeli cheese manufacturers make larger quantity containers. Why don’t they do that with other holidays?

canola oil-NEW

Who wants 10,000 latkes?

13. I love that in Israel, “free-range kids” are just “kids”.

14. I love that even though our neighbors lost their minds over the joint picture of Miss Lebanon and Miss Israel, nobody here gave a damn. Wake me when the South Lebanese army invites us over for chumus and raspberry-flavored gazoz.

15. I love the communal crib-on-wheels. If Egged, Gymboree, and “The Shawshank Redemption” had a baby, it would look like this.

baby jail

16. I love that when I went to the obstetrician with my pregnant friend in Bnei Brak, the lady next to us told the doctor that her last menstrual cycle was on Yud Daled b’Tamuz.

17. I love the Machon Ayalon’s underground bullet factory that kibbutznikim hid from the British leading up to the War of Independence. Forty-five workers kept an ammunition plant secret for three years. When I successfully return a shirt to Castro without a receipt, all my Facebook friends know within seven minutes.

18. I love that the Knesset installed solar panels on the roof, making it one of the most environmentally friendly parliaments in the world. Brings new meaning to the term “Green Party”.

19. I love that the Rolling Stones pushed back their concert’s start time to accommodate those celebrating Shavuot. I just poured three packets of “Brown Sugar” on my blintzes.

20. I love that Justin Timberlake shared a photo of himself at the Kotel on Instagram. No need for your suit and tie here, JT. Fancy jeans will do.


21. I love that during a sabbatical shmita year, many farmers don’t work and their communities support them for the year. Who wants to pay my rent while I take the next three months off?

22. I love that in Arad, you can walk from a bar to a sand dune in 10 minutes.

23. I love the noise that Israelis make with their tongues to answer a question “no”. It’s like a combination of “I don’t think so” and “The Horse Whisperer”.

24. I love that this country is so small that when my friend got someone else’s produce order delivered to his apartment, he looked up the recipient on Facebook, found me as a mutual friend, and was able to contact her directly. Because a rind is a terrible thing to waste.

25. I love that YouTube’s location-based ads means I can binge-watch a slew of Bar Refaeli commercials.

26. I love that Apple CEO Tim Cook visited Israel to open a new R&D center.

“Hi, Tim, it’s Benji. Can I ask you to bring me something small in your suitcase?




Hello, Tim?”

27. I love that Tel Aviv is so dog-friendly that we even have self-service dog-cleaning facilities. When you see me showering in there, don’t be alarmed. I’m just bringing down my water bill.

dog washing

28. I love that Jason Derulo’s hit song “Talk Dirty to Me” was based on Israeli band Balkan Beat Box’s “Hermetico”. The last time I so enjoyed a sample, it involved me and an unattended box of Marzipan rugelach.

29. I love all the co-working hubs like PICO Jerusalem, Mazeh 9, and WeWork that provide a space for social entrepreneurs and young innovators. Behind every successful start-up is a great Nespresso.

30. I love that the glue on Israeli envelopes and stamps is kosher.

31. I love that the calpi (voting station) is a legitimate place to meet singles.

“Hey, baby-can I slip my petek in your box?”

32. I love that after his term ended, Shimon Peres “looked for a job.” Rumor has it he’s selling mangalim at Home Center.

Peres at Home Center

[Update following recent news reports that Peres has taken on a position with Bank Hapoalim: At least we know who’ll be manning the BBQ on Yom Kef.]

33. I love that living in Israel means there are no accusations of the Jewish lobby unfairly influencing the election.

34. I love not only that Optica Halperin is offering 67% off all inventory this Yom Haatzmaut, but also that the discount goes up 1% every year. I just placed a bulk order of bifocals for 2048.


35. I love that even if a date with an Israeli goes poorly, you still receive free Ulpan.

36. I love that an alien from Mars could land in Israel and, despite not speaking a word of Hebrew, would have a 64.8% chance of figuring out a word’s meaning if you just gave him the shoresh.

37. I love that when the bell goes off at my friend’s kids school, it rings to the tune of an Arik Einstein song.

Ani v’ata….are getting the eff out of math class.”

38. I love that Omer Adam’s hit song “Tel Aviv” starts with the tune of “Shalom Aleichem.” Rolling Stone reports that Maroon 5’s next hit song will include a sample of Birkat Hamazon.

39. I love that my mistaken reading of the word hahm (ham) as ha’em (the mother) on a menu allowed me to use “Hebrew” as an acceptable excuse to send my sandwich back. I should have just ordered stamps on rye.

40. I love that instead of a Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, we have a giant menorah in Jerusalem’s Zion Square. To be fair, ice skating down Ben-Yehudah Street is a real pain in the ass.

41. I love that bus drivers can adjust the radio, talk to the tour guide in the front seat, and maneuver a thirteen-ton vehicle over an unpaved road while hanging over a cliff.

42. I love that despite living in the desert, our desalination plants allow us to have a water surplus. That’s like living on the sun and having ice in your freezer.

43. I love the complete cognitive dissonance I experience when processing the hyper-Jewish names of our fashion designers: Yaron Minkowski, Maor Radwinowitz, and Irena Burshtein. Move over, Coco Chanel, and make room for the next big thing, Shuki Yankelfish.

44. I love that we name our parking lots after former Prime Ministers. In Golda’s famous words, “We will only have peace when our drivers love Kvish 6 more than they hate honking.”

Golda parking

45. I love that in America, you spend Halloween looking for candy but on Purim in Israel, the goodies come to you. Bonus: nobody wraps your house with toilet paper.

46. I love the Israeli scouts friendship caravan, which tours North America spreading goodwill through song and dance. It’s like the Mickey Mouse Club meets the Ministry of Tourism.

47. I love the ideological, uplifting names the pioneers gave our cities: “Opening of Hope” (Petach Tikvah), “The First to Zion” (Rishon L’Tzion), “Gift of G-d” (Netanya)… If Herzl had accepted the offer of Uganda, I’d be writing this from Rishon L’Jungle.

48. I love that local-boy-done-good David Blatt parlayed Maccabi Tel Aviv’s European championship into an NBA coaching job. Little-known fact: he calls his star player by his Hebrew name, “HaBron.”

49. I love “Re-Lod“, the revitalization project where the student community of this central Israeli city is trying to create a better future for young people. I commend their passionate efforts and have only this to say: “Kol Haka-lod.”

50. I love that a combover in Hebrew is referred to as “halva’a v’chisachon” (savings and loan). If Bibi were any more follically challenged, the housing bubble would explode.

51. I love that we now have scientific evidence that early exposure to peanuts can prevent allergies later. Bamba-eaters 1, anti-vaxxers 0.

52. I love Jerusalem’s picturesque path for joggers, strollers, and bikes along the old railway line. If it had existed in ’67, the city’s liberation would have looked quite different.

Jerusalem path

53. I love that Tel-o-fun was ranked among the world’s top 10 urban bike sharing programs. A yearly subscriber’s average time per ride is 17 minutes or, in Israel, the amount of time between the end of the first date and when you meet his/her parents.

54. I love the variety of artisanal sheshbesh boards for sale made of everything from walrus tusk to pottery shards from the Sadducees.

55. I love that you can pull over and pray in a synagogue on the side of the highway.

shul on Kvish 6

“Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and blessed us with the bathrooms and cafes at the M Haderech rest stop.”

56. I love that you can drive the entire country without losing your favorite radio station.

57. I love that on Friday afternoon, Galgalatz radio will list the Shabbat times and announce the weekly parsha. “Coming up next, Kanye, Taylor Swift, and Lech Lecha.”

58. I love that on consecutive Saturday nights before the election, a left- and right-wing rally each attracted thousands to Kikar Rabin. They should have just met on Wednesday, played sheshbesh, and let the winner run the country.

59. I love that Chol Hamoed makes the Sukkot and Passover holidays four hundred times more fun than abroad.

“Ehhh….Billy, how deed you spend Pesach een New York?”


“It was fine. I went to Seder and then schlepped my matza sandwich to school. How was it in Israel?”


“Sababa, achi! I camped out at the Kineret for a week and then binge-watched ‘House of Cards!’ ”

60. I love that the Pope came to visit. Or as he is known here, His Holy Gever.

Pope on beach

“Oh, Jesus, the beach library is closed….”

61. I love that the mayor of Jerusalem helped subdue an attacker before he could do further harm. “And with the first pick in the 2015 NFL draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select… Nir Barkat, linebacker from Hebrew University.”

62. I love people who follow their dreams and retire in Israel. Better late than never. Especially for free health care.

63. I love that even though I’m not religious, I can see a minyan while changing flights in Europe and feel happy that I’m on my way home. “Ahhh… my people.”

64. I love that during Operation Protective Edge, our national airline continued operating flights when so many foreign carriers stopped out of fear. El Al got so much love, it was like the romantic comedy when the girl realizes she should dump the a-hole because her true love was right there all along.

65. I love our country’s powerful sense of community you feel most in times of need. Despite the fear that lone soldier Sean Carmeli’s funeral would be unattended, twenty thousand people showed up to support him. A lone soldier is anything but.

66. I love not only that so many people refused to cancel their trips to Israel during the war but that so many decided to come because of it. There was nowhere in the world I would have rather been and if you’ve never been here or can’t understand that, I invite you to come today, next week, next year, or whenever. Otherwise you’ll be missing out on one of the most special places on the planet.

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

To book Benji Lovitt for a comedy show/educational workshop for Summer/Fall 2015 in Israel and North America, contact him at For previous entries in this series, check out the 666564636261 and 60 things Benji loves about Israel. Follow him here for regular, hilarious updates and subscribe to his mailing list here.

About the Author
Since making aliyah in 2006, Benji Lovitt has performed stand-up comedy and educational programs for groups including Jewish Federations, Chabads, 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. Benji has worked as a cross-cultural trainer with groups including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Masa Israel and is a popular presenter on the Limmud International circuit. 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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