A glance at 2020 in numbers

Here’s some data we don’t really talk about enough. Numbers are often far more accurate than gut feelings and moods.

  1. One. That’s the number of IDF soldiers killed in action in 2020. One. First Sergeant Amit Ben Yigal was killed after a large rock hit his head while on duty in the village of Yabed.

Of course, every person is a whole world, yet still, the IDF’s statistics for 2020 are quite extraordinary. Apart from Amit, another 27 soldiers died in various accidents, and mostly from illness, “Nature Parties,” or, sadly, suicide.

  1. Two. That’s the number of terror victims in 2020. Rav Shai Ochayon was stabbed at the Segula Junction in Petach Tikva, and Esther Horgan was murdered while jogging near her home in Tal Menashe. That’s the trend in recent years, Baruch Hashem, and anyone who grew up like me – during the days of exploding buses, when my parents hid from me horrific headlines on attacks with 20 dead – knows how much this relative calm should not be taken for granted.
  2. 115,000. That was the number of people expected to die from Corona in the US last month (January). A friend from New York, Rav Elchanan Poupko, sent me that statistic. It appeared in the Independent, which quotes the forecast from Washington University experts. To date, 360,000 Americans have died from COVID-19, approximately 77,000 in December 2020.

“What really shocks me is the apathy,” writes Poupko. “So many people are dying, and it seems that the most powerful country in the world is just accepting it. We are marching towards this terrible number with our eyes wide open…115,000! I just don’t understand what has happened to the basic value of the sanctity of human life.”

  1. Word of the Year. The Academy of the Hebrew Language published their words of the year for 2020. In first place, the public voted for “swab,” in second, “mask,” and third, “isolation.” All words we rarely used at the end of 2019, if at all.

Precisely for that reason, at the Oxford Dictionary they refused to select their “Word of the Year.” Every year, the experts of the esteemed English dictionary choose a word that captures the spirit of the times, but after 2020 – so they explained – they found the task beyond them.

The language has changed so dramatically, that there simply isn’t one single word that can encapsulate what we’re going through. They wrote about a few words – lockdown, social distancing, superspreader… and noted that our lexicon has changed, and that to an extent we have all become amateur epidemiologists.

  1. Top of the Playlist. Finally, amidst the news of fourth elections in Israel and the third lockdown, the national musical soundtrack tells a different story.

A story of home. A story of serenity. A story of unity.

More than 100,000 listeners voted in radio station GalGalatz’s annual “Song of the Year” contest and it’s significant that the winning song was “Complete” by Idan Refael Chaviv. A love song about Shabbat, about home, about the little moments of life. The song doesn’t even have a cool clip or any effects or outrageous production expenses. Simply simplicity, relationships and meaning.

In the end, after one of the stormiest years we have ever lived through, the “Song of the Year” in Israel begins with the words: “You are preparing for Shabbat and praying. I could look at that for hours…”

This post first appeared in Hebrew in Yediot Achronot, and has been translated by World Mizrachi.

About the Author
Sivan Rahav Meir is a media personality and lecturer. A Jerusalem resident, she is the World Mizrachi’s scholar-in-residence. Her lectures on the weekly Torah portion are attended by hundreds and the live broadcast attracts thousands of listeners around the world. Sivan lectures in Israel and overseas about the media, Judaism, Zionism and new media. She was voted by Globes newspaper as most popular female media personality in Israel and by the Jerusalem Post as one of the 50 most influential Jews in the world.
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