Talya Woolf

72 Reasons I Love Israel

72. Let’s start with one of the best Israeli stories ever: A couple from Ashdod took their daughter to Jerusalem for a Bat Mitzvah night at the Kotel and then sat together in a little Cafe in the old city. The waitress heard that they were there for the bat mitzvah, took interest, asked them some questions and took their orders. She took their order, urged them to order different things, and maybe some dessert for the special occasion.

When she asked for the check, she received a note which said:

“We were happy to have you here. May you raise your daughter with Nachat, happiness and personal and national peace. Mazal tov, enjoy! We got the bill!”

71. In Israel, whether on the bus or train, you will eventually sit next to someone who is completing his ulpan Hebrew homework (the way you should have done years ago). He’s conjugating the verb ‘want’ in each of the nine binyanim. And all you’ll want to do is cheer him on for his diligence and hard work… “I WANT you to succeed. He WANTS you to succeed. We all WANT you to succeed!” [Note: I feel pretty proud that I know how to say ‘succeed!’]

70. In Israel, you will have a car full of guys drive around a roundabout and almost hit you while you’re on your bike, then, as an apology, roll down their windows to hit on you. “Ahalan….!”

69. At the start of the Corona outbreak, our president Rivlin read to kids on Facebook for an hour to help them (and their parents) get through this. That’s amazing and it was super cute.

68. One of my favorite things is that the Israeli radio stations announce the time that Shabbat comes in each and every Friday. That way, you can either panic about how much you still have left to do before it’s time to light candles or, if you’re not religious, when you can go to the beach in peace.

67. Musicians from all over the country, from every style of music, from every generation, come together to make an AWESOMELY catchy song about how we’re one big family.

66. Apartment buildings create a WhatsApp group in order to help each other if they need anything, especially those with kids or grandparents.

65. People are always willing to help entertain or hold your baby if you need two hands to accomplish something. Or one hand. Or if you have a cute baby. Or if you don’t. Israelis just love babies.

64. Bosses aren’t just bosses here and coworkers aren’t just coworkers. They give you advice on how to live your life, how many children to have, give you rides home, ask how they can help, and it’s all legit out of love. We aren’t used to it, but it really is (it doesn’t mean you have to listen or agree – just smile and nod).

63. Israelis have the funniest and funnest vocabulary. They intersperse English phrases randomly into their speech, you know, have the ever popular slang words scattered throughout their speech, and abbreviate EVERYTHING. B’emet, Achi – it’s the troot. Now leave, I’m late for my shnatz.

62. The very Mediterranean and Israeli snacks. Kids and adults both LOVE bamba (the proof is that bamba is one of the most common ‘first words’ here), halva (bamba with halva is to die for), shkedei marak, shoko b’sakit, krolodin, Abadi cookies (the ‘abomination’ cookies), coffee milk that you shake, coffee with hel (cardamom), humus-cheeps-salat, malabi dessert… I could go on.

61. In Israel, you will become friendly with your cashier at your local grocery store or makolet, so much so that if one of you hasn’t seen each other in a bit, you will get concerned. You’ll also learn about their families, tell them about each of your kids, and share photos.

60. If you ever have trouble with your Maccabi app, you forgot your card, and your Hebrew isn’t quite up to snuff, the receptionist will tell everyone else to wait and will help you log in remotely so that you can go ahead and see the doctor without delay.

59. Don’t worry, Anglos! You can find almost anything in Israel these days, including whipped cream, American pickles, muffins, and even American doughnuts!

58. If you’re pregnant, most of the time, people will let you cut in line at the grocery store and have a seat on the bus, quickly followed by a mazal tov or b’shaa tova wishes with a huge smile on their face.

57. During Pesach this year, when we were all basically in lock-down and people were complaining non-stop about not being able to be with their family for the holiday, the whole country put their frustrations aside, stood near their windows and on their mirpasot to sing “ma nishtanah” (“מה נשתנה”) with the rest of the country.

56. Waiting in line anywhere, you will make friends with the others in line, whether at Roladin, Rami Levy, or even sitting in the play area at the mall. “Which nutball is yours?”

55. When you’re not Israeli, HaTikvah makes you feel proud. And suddenly, you make Aliyah and live in Israel and HaTikvah makes you feel like crying because it’s not just pride, it’s love, it’s your country.

54. Starting in March, as you practice your guitar or do yoga on the balcony, you hear someone practicing sax nightly. It’s pleasant and calming. Even more so, when on Yom HaAtzmaut, the sax found a friend in another apartment – an oboe – to join in and play HaTikvah and everyone on their mirpasot started applauding.

53. Chaverim – there are about 25,000 people all over this tiny country who will drop everything, leave their home, leave their workplace, and crawl out of bed in the middle of the night to help you if your car breaks down. Thank you, Yedidim!

52. When you leave Israel, the airport security guard will ask why you visited Israel twice in one year, and you answer, “because I’m making Aliyah.” And for a brief moment, the curtain of security will drop, a smile will almost crack, and she will say with a twinkle in her eye, “Kol HaKavod.”

51. Israel is the place where bus drivers will park their busses in order to help elderly passengers climb the steps. Israel is also the place where the drivers will remind them where their stop is and help tell the rider where they need to go. And, of course, Israel is the place where, if the driver is new to the route, the passengers will help them with the Israeli Waze.

50. The glue on Israeli stamps is kosher. Yup. Now whether it’s KLP (kashlapi) – that’s a different question. Be sure to consult your LOR.

49. Israeli bank notes are marked in braille. Need I say more?

48. So many Israeli companies and organizations have the magen david, or a portion thereof, placed within their logo. It’s a pride that feels too good!

47. Every single citizen keeps careful track of the level of the Kinneret and they ALL let each other know that they will be skipping work, skipping school, and taking their kids out of gan in order to see them open the dams in the north and fill the Dead Sea and flood the Jordan River.

46. We knew that Israel was a force to reckon with, but did you know that Israel has the largest fleet of air crafts outside of the U.S. and one of the most highly regarded air forces in the world? Love those flybys!

45. Israelis speak with their hands just as much as their mouths. It ain’t communicating if you don’t use your whole body and, what’s more, if you tie their hands behind their back… they’ll be quiet! No joke.

44. Worried about our bees and our delicious honey? A team of twelve students from the Technion (Israel Institute of Technology) has been working on bee-free honey produced by the bacterium Bacillus Subtilis. I, myself, would volunteer to taste this golden sunshine. Email me, team!

43. When Israel declared its statehood in 1948, its population was 806,000. Today, as of Yom HaAtzmaut 2020, her population totals 9.19 million (including Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druzim, Baha’i, Samaratanism, and 76 other ethnicities who call Israel home).

42. Hebrew, one of the two official languages of Israel, is the ONLY dead language to be revived and spoken by an entire nation.

41. In Israel, history is more immediate than anywhere else. When you talk to your coworker, you find out her parents met in the Polish underground and married in the forest before they immigrated to Israel. And when you talk to moms of gan friends, you find out that one of them came to Israel from Iran in the 1980s. Never assume anyone’s history or what they’ve been through. B’emet.

40. Trust me. It’s a cultural thing… every single person you run into will refer to you as “mami,” “motek,” or any other pet name. It actually doesn’t matter what gender you are or your marital status or age; it’s just a term of endearment. Accept it and move on, neshama chamudi sheli.

39. I will never EVER let this one go. Sabras (native-born Israelis) maintain so much confidence in themselves and their abilities, it’s astounding and we could learn from them. That being said, I wouldn’t be opposed to them using an Anglo or even spell-check before they publish signs, t-shirts, or ANYTHING for sale or posted publicly. Sweat cakes, anyone?

38. I remember Israeli TV shows being horrendous back in the ’80s. Since then, they’ve worked hard to improve the shows and reputation and now, television shows and series are one of Israel’s big exports, both to the US and to the UK! Which is your favorite? Right now, I’m loving HaShoter HaTov – crazy wacky humor.

37. In 2018, Israel released a stamp honoring the Indian battalion which defeated the Ottomans and released Haifa. We’re getting pretty good at saying thank you!

36. Where do you think you could find one of the shortest subways in the world? Did you guess Haifa? It was built in 1959 and it’s still running underneath the (gorgeous) City that Works.

35. Toke up, baby. In 1963, fifty-seven years ago, Israel took its first major step into cannabis research, and today, because Hebrew U. Professor Raphael Mechoulam discovered the chemical structure of THC and and CBD, Israel now dominates the cannabis research industry. Looking for a job?

34. Israel has some kind of deep love affair with restaurants at gas stops… and yet, somehow, they do it SO WELL! So far, we’ve fallen in love with BP and Brisket. Please tell me about more!

33. The founder of United Hatzalah, Eli Beer, became ill with COVID-19 and everyone in Israel and the United States were rooting for him to beat it. It’s not enough that he came up with the brilliant idea and ambucycles, has participated in international training seminars, but now he’s a Corona surviver as well. Kov HaKavod!

32. Last year was a record breaking year in Israel’s economy – with all hope, it’ll help keep the little country on top of things this year. You can’t keep Israelis down for long! Yehiya b’seder, achi!

31. Over so many decades, Israel has assisted so many countries when they’re in their time of need that we’ve all lost track. I lie… it’s over twenty countries, including Rwanda, India, Mexico, Congo, Chad, Sudan, Malawi. Shall I continue?

30. Only in Israel, on Yom HaZikaron, do flower shops offer free flowers for all grieving families who have lost loved ones.

29. Israel is home to no fewer than 25 programs protecting wildlife, including rhinos, exotic birds, and the always lovable sea turtles. If this one doesn’t appeal to you, you’re just heartless.

28. The Israeli motto is, “It’ll be okay” or “Yehiyeh b’seder.” Strangers/older moms will come up to you while you’re sitting on a bench near your kids’ ganim, practically given up on getting them into your car while they run around playing hide and seek, and reassure you that everything will be okay. And somehow, it was, and it will be.

27. Israelis, even during Corona, are still working hard on the most important Jewish thing ever. Finding people a spouse. Points of Contact and other Facebook groups are still working hard on connecting people – starting with lots and lots of phone conversations and video calls. Why not? Life and love must go on!

26. Speaking of, weddings haven’t stopped during Corona. Israelis have found a way to celebrate. From balconies in apartments blasting music, dancing six feet apart… Nothing can stop AHAVA – love (not the lotion company, though they’re pretty great too).

25. Have you had a limonana garus lately? It’s an amazing and refreshing summer drink. Frozen lemonade with nana mint in crushed ice. It’s cool and irresistible and I want one RIGHT NOW.

24. Israel has a ridiculous amount of gorgeous beaches and it doesn’t matter where you are in Israel – you can dip your feet in the cool waters within about an hour’s time.

23. Israel is beautiful in all different ways – mountains, seas, deserts, resorts, and more. Even better, you don’t have to travel far to see different scenes.

22. In Israel, everyone is family. And if you don’t have a living grandparent, you can get on the bus and be adopted by one. She will then call you, check on you, practice your Hebrew with you, and give you all the advice you didn’t realize you were missing.

21. Israelis don’t just say that kids are important. If a coworker or a boss gets a text or call that the child needs to be picked up, they can leave in the middle of the day to get them and no one will blink an eye. They could even bring the kids back to work and all production stops as everyone admires how cute and smart they are.

20. Israel is awesome because we don’t have serial killers (that we know about). Seriously, Israelis have better things to do, like travel around the world, create new technologies, and loving on babies.

19. The fresh fruits, crisp vegetables, and creamy and hard cheeses. Oh my goodness. With foods like these, you will honestly think you were eating plastic before you came here. And the best place to find these delicacies is at the shuk, ANY shuk, since they get it straight from the farms which surround you.

18. To fly abroad and enjoy the sights, which all Israelis do en masse, but then, it never gets old, when everyone claps upon landing in the golden Land of Milk and Honey and stands immediately to unload their luggage.

17. Israel is like jail. Everyone knows someone who can get something for them. Psst… Need furniture? I know the guy at the best store. Need a babysitter? I have a girl.

16. Gal Gadot’s success is ours because mishpacha isn’t just a word here. She has continued her positive attitude and success in Hollywood and she also still feels pride being Israeli as well. Consider this an early birthday wish: Happy birthday, Gal!

15. Israelis are not so great at planning. However, we can improvise better than anyone in the world – we are the country of MacGyvers! Need a bridge made out of a toothpick? Ask an Israeli! חייל פנתר מאלתר, חמודי.

14. If you got an invite to the Tel Aviv symphony, just throw on a t-shirt and nice jeans (no holes) and you’re good. No jacket and tie necessary!

13. Israel is one of the only places where if you want to break the rules of kosher, you have to make an effort to do so. And if you walk into a non-kosher place (with a kipa), they’ll proactively tell you that they don’t have a teudah so that you don’t make a mistake. Money isn’t the issue; respect is.

12. Yom Kippur is Bicycle Day. There are no laws against driving, no laws encouraging fasting, but almost every Israeli fasts on this day. From small yishuvim to large cities, parents and kids get their bikes out and go riding. And on your way home from synagogue, non-religious people will yell down, asking if they blew shofar yet.

11. According to the Ramban, every new two meters that you walk in the land of Israel is a mitzvah.

10. Israelis love making new songs and covering other songs to make their own. Unsurprisingly, the most popular lately is D-D-D-die Corona!

9. It still warms my heart that I’ll be talking to a random guy wearing a plaid shirt and jeans and then I’ll notice he’s wearing a kipa and tzitzit. Almost five years here, and I forget how nice it is that most people who live here are Jewish like me and I don’t have to explain my religion, my beliefs, and my love for Judaism and this country.

8. We don’t care if you’re Jewish or not – you will still be invited, and welcomed with open arms, to the most intimate Shabbat dinner.

7. I love Israel because every name has a meaning.

6. You can sit at a cafe for hours and no one will kick you out (they might forget to bring you more water, but you’ll always have enough delicious cafe hafuch).

5. I love Israel and I love being here because it reminds me how far I have come, and where I’d be if I hadn’t made Aliyah.

4. You never ever have to use vacation days to take off for Jewish holidays, and if you want, even if you’re not religious, you can take off Shabbat and unplug, and no one will get insulted if you don’t return their text.

3. Because even though Israelis are strong, confident, brash, intimidating, and a little obnoxious, inside they’re really just giant smushballs who care way too much about other Israelis and their country.

2. Everyone stops at the sound of the sirens, children and adults alike. They pull over on the highway, get out of their cars, stand in their pajamas in their homes, put down their coffees, and rise in solidarity with the rest of the country, remembering those who have died so that we can live, as Jews, in this beautiful, varied country.

1. Israel is my country. For all the above reasons and more, I love this country. I love the people, I love the views, I love the food, I love the attitude, I love how we care about ourselves and others, and I love that my kids are Israeli and don’t have to fight daily for things that used to be hard for me. Israel is not always the easiest place to live, but it is my land and my country, and these are my people.

About the Author
Talya Woolf is an eight-year Olah with four spirited children and a fantastic husband. She is a writer, American-licensed attorney, handgun instructor, amateur photographer, and artist. She is politically confusing, Modern Orthodox (though she doesn't dress the part), and ardent Zionist (ZFB). She enjoys spending time with family, friends, running, photography, and reading about highly contagious diseases and WWII.
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