Arts & Culture

70 Israeli Fun Facts to Celebrate 70 Years of Israel

by JCPConnect-

As a piece of our Memphis Celebrates Israel at 70 programming, the project’s coordinator Melinda Lejman compiled this fascinating list of 70 Israeli Fun Facts. Many readers have seen them as they were published on the Memphis Celebrates Israel at 70 Facebook page, but here they are in one convenient (and impressive) roundup.

  1. Israel has two official languages: Hebrew and Arabic.
  2. Israel is only 1/6 of 1% of the landmass of the Middle East (Israel is roughly half the size of Lake Michigan).
  3. Golda Meir was the 3rd woman in history to serve as a country’s prime minister.
  4. Israel has won five bronze Olympic medals, one silver and one gold.
  5. Israel has more museums per capita than any other country in the world.
  6. The Dead Sea in Israel is the lowest point on earth, at 1,315 feet below sea level at its lowest point.
  7. Ever wondered if the glue on Israel’s stamps are kosher? It is.
  8. Biking on Yom Kippur has become a tradition in Israel.
  9. There are over 100 sushi restaurants in Tel Aviv.
  10. Israel has 137 official beaches (but only 273 km of coastline).
  11. Israelis consume the third largest amount of vegetables and sweets in the world.
  12. Israeli cows produce more milk per cow than almost any country in the world, vying only with South Korea.
  13. Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv is the most expensive site on the official Israeli Monopoly board.
  14. Some buses and stations around Israel bear the inscription “You shall rise before the aged and show deference to the old” — a quote from Leviticus intended to encourage courtesy among passengers.
  15. Beersheva has the largest number of chess grandmasters per capita of any city in the world.
  16. In many Israeli bus stops, you can find a box for tzedakah (charitable giving).
  17. Israel boasts 9 kosher smokehouse restaurants.
  18. There are close to 50 kosher McDonalds spread throughout Israel
  19. An estimated million notes are left in the Kotel each year — and cleaned out before Pesach and Rosh Hashanah.
  20. Palwin wine, Israel’s oldest brand, was first produced by the Palestine Wine and Trading Company, established in 1898. One explanation for why the different variations are identified by numbers is that they refer to different Israeli bus routes.
  21. The Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers TV series was produced by Israeli Haim Saban.
  22. In 1966, Shai Agnon became Israel’s first recipient of a Nobel Prize — for literature.
  23. Haifa’s Carmelit transport system is one of the smallest subway systems in the world, with four carriages and a track of just 1.8 km.
  24. The largest known dog cemetery in the ancient world was unearthed in Ashkelon.
  25. With peanuts introduced to their diets earlier (mostly in the form of the snack, Bamba), babies in Israel are 10 times less likely to suffer from a peanut allergy than Jewish children in the UK.
  26. Approximately 4,000 Bauhaus-style buildings were built in Tel Aviv in the 1930s and ‘40s — the largest collection in the world. The buildings were collectively recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site in 2003, and guided tours of the White City are still popular with tourists.
  27. Israeli bank notes have Braille on them.
  28. The opening scene of the Al Pacino film The Insider was shot in Israel – although it was set in Lebanon.
  29. Looking to celebrate Thanksgiving in Israel? You’ll need to order your bird weeks in advance! Happy Thanksgiving, All!
  30. The word “Israel” in Morse code would be: .. … .-. .- . .-..
  31. Israel is one of only two countries that began the 21st century with a net gain in the number of its trees.
  32. In 1992, Israel experienced such severe snow that several centimeters fell in the Negev desert.
  33. In 2009, basketball player Omri Caspi became the first Israeli to be selected in the first round of the prestigious annual NBA draft.
  34. Israeli Linor Abargil won the Miss World contest in 1998.
  35. You can do a walking Hanukkah Tour of Israel! Chag Sameach!
  36. Chanukah is the only time of year where you can find Sufganiyot all over Israel for at least a month leading up to the chag.
  37. The IDF helped equip a maternity hospital over the Syrian border.
  38. There are about 4,300 startups operating in Israel, with about 2,900 of these located within a 10-mile radius, a rate of development second in intensity to only Silicon Valley itself.
  39. Most of the Windows NT operating system was developed by Microsoft-Israel.
  40. It was an Israeli engineer working for Intel in California, Dov Frohman, who in 1972 paved the way for computing as we know it when he invented the EPROM, the ultra-violet light, erasable, read-only memory chip that eventually led to the creation of flash memory.
  41. Israeli scientists have devised a computer that can perform 330 trillion operations per second, more than 100,000 times the speed of the fastest PC. The secret: It runs on DNA.
  42. While not officially celebrated, New Year’s Eve in Israel has become bigger and bigger in recent years, and there are now hundreds of New Year’s Eve parties across Israel, as well as many other special events, which cater to all musical, cultural, and social tastes
  43. Four young Israelis developed the technology for AOL Instant Messenger and ICQ.
  44. There is a city in Israel named after Los Angeles. For those of you who are familiar with the biblical book of Malachi, in Hebrew “mal’ach” means “angel”. Kiryat Malachi is located 30km south of Tel Aviv. The locale first came into being in 1887 after Baron Rothschild purchased land from Arab villagers of nearby Kastina. Until 1948 it remained mostly deserted due to its relative isolation and the difficulties in defending it. It received its current name in 1958 as a tribute to the Jewish community of Los Angeles. In 1998 it was declared a city.
  45. Balfouria, Ramat David, and Gan Yoashiah are named after politicians from Britain.
  46. Can you figure out which city gave its name to the Israeli moshav of Mei-Ami? (One word – US City, 5 letters) It’s Miami!
  47. The former prime minister of Israel, Ehud Barak, played the piano. This became known when he played Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” on a TV show.
  48. Kfar Truman, a moshav located 3km east of the Ben-Gurion airport, was founded in 1949 and named after US president at the time, Harry S. Truman (1884-1972).
  49. Mishmar David was named in honour of David Daniel Marcus (also known as Mickey Marcus and Mickey Stone), a US Army Colonel who became the first General of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).
  50. Batzra is a moshav in the Sharon region founded in 1946 by war veterans who fought with the British Army. Their reason for choosing this name was that during WWII they were stationed near the city of Basra, Iraq.
  51. Israel is home to the amazing Uncle Moshe’s Farm, a resort for dogs!
  52. You can celebrate Tu B’Shevat AND Israel with a free e-seder, by planting Israeli seeds at home, or by trying out delicious recipes.
  53. In Haifa, Israel you can check out Atlit Yam, the submerged ruins of a Neolithic coastal settlement, where houses, wells, graves and skeletons have been unearthed.
  54. In Ashkelon, Israel you can find the Beit Guvrin Caves. These numerous Israeli caves were dug out over hundreds of years for reasons ranging from hideouts to burial sites.
  55. Did you know…hundreds of American football fans gathered early Monday morning to watch the SuperBowl at Mike’s Place – the unofficial US Embassy in Jerusalem.
  56. Over 2,000 Israelis – men, women and children –play American football in Israel. The Israel Football League (IFL) was founded in the summer of 2005 by a group of Israelis who wanted to play tackle American football. The first season, played without pads or an official governing body, began in the Fall of 2005. In 2007, the league began fully equipped play under the umbrella of American Football in Israel (AFI), and Israel Bowl I was held in 2008. The IFL is sponsored by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and his family.
  57. Israel has its own “Humans of” style project, Humans of Tel Aviv, and its creator come to Memphis in March! Stay tuned for more details on the Memphis-Shoham collaborative project inspired by Humans of Tel Aviv!
  58. Albert Einstein was offered the presidency of Israel.
  59. SpaceIL is aiming to make history and land the first Israeli spacecraft on the Moon and to inspire a generation along the way.
  60. The Ophir Awards (Hebrew: פרס אופיר‎), also known as the Israeli Oscars, are awarded by the Israeli Academy of Film and Television to recognize excellence of professionals in the film industry of Israel. They are named after actor Shaike Ophir and first given out in 1990.
  61. If you live on the east coast, you can reach Tel Aviv in about 10 hours.
  62. Israel is the 11th happiest nation in the world, according to the 2018 World Happiness Report.
  63. Israel is famous for its steakhouses and BBQ.
  64. Because of Israel’s variety of terrain and climate, the country has a large variety of animals. Boars roam the damp oak woodlands of the Golan Heights. Caspian turtles live in the marshlands along the coast. And hyenas are prevalent in the Negev Desert region in the southern Israel.
  65. There is a massive, heart-shaped, wind-carved crater in the middle of the Israeli desert.
  66. Martin Luther King, Jr. had planned to visit Israel in late 1967, until the 6 Day War broke out that summer. He and his staff postponed the trip, but Dr. King was killed in Memphis on this day in 1968. “Israel is one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy.” -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  67. Israel is home to some of the world’s most well-known poets, including Hayim Nahaman Bialik, who is recognized today as Israel’s national poet. Bialik is best known for his nationalism, as his poetry merges the beauty he sees in nature and the religious world in which he was raised.
  68. There is a rollerblading party that happens every Tuesday in Tel Aviv!
  69. Israel’s national bird is the hoopoe.
  70. Israel’s National Anthem is Hatikvah (The Hope).

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