- Janis Raisen
The 75 Reasons to Love Israel: A Special Tribute
Israel just turned 75, and Israelis celebrated around the country. Concerts, picnics, the annual airshow, and of course watching the fireworks, were all part of the celebrations.
Israel's 75th Independence Day was celebrated on April 26, 2023 (the Hebrew date), and deserves an extra special salute. The English date is May 14. Most of the world is most familiar with May 14, 1948, as the official date of Israel's Independence.
It's amazing to think what the country has accomplished in just 75 years, when it was re-established in modern times.
What's to love about Israel? The list is endless, but we have put together 75 things in honor of the country's milestone birthday, with some help from locals and tourists.
The 75 Reasons to Love Israel
(Listed in no particular order)
For most of the year, the skies are blue and the sunshine is plenty.
Sunset time is a very relaxing, and magical time of the day in Israel. Every sunset is unique, and every landscape provides a completely different experience.
Timna Park (Left), about 25 KM North of Eilat; Tel Aviv sunsets (middle, right) Photos: Israel Sites & Sights / Janis Raisen)
Every person has a favorite falafel place, but in reality, is there really such as a thing as falafel in Israel that doesn't taste good?
4. Yedidim — Volunteer Roadside Assistance and More
Yedidim, meaning friends in Hebrew, is a volunteer organization with over 56,000 volunteers from across the country. It is known for providing 24/6, free roadside assistance to drivers who find themselves stuck with a flat tire, dead battery, low gas or fluids, or are locked out of their car.
Described as "non-medical first aid" services by CEO Israel Almasi, Almasi told Israel Sites and Sights that they don't just help people out on the road. They assist with whatever is needed, including rescuing people from trapped elevators, or children that are stuck in cars, and even handing out water to people waiting in long lines, as they did recently to the hundreds that waited at the Ministry of Interior to renew their passports.
They sometimes assist the Homefront Command division of the IDF. Last week during "Operation Shield and Arrow," they helped 2502 people close the heavy iron window protector in their safe rooms.
Founded in 2006, Yedidim has helped hundreds of thousands across the country, including 708,000 just in the last year alone, according to Almasi.
5. Markets around the country
The Carmel Market in Tel Aviv, the Jaffa Flea Market, Machane Yehuda, and the Arab Market in Jerusalem, are the most familiar markets, but they are not the only worthwhile ones to visit. Others include: Sarona Market, Levinsky Market, and Ramla Market. The market culture is widespread across the country.
Carmel Market, Tel Aviv (Photos: Israel Sites & Sights / Janis Raisen)
6. National Parks
National parks are scattered throughout the country. They vary in type, size, and services, but are well maintained and offer beautiful sites and sights. Some have hiking trails, greenery, history or archaeological ruins.
7. Darom Adom ( Red South) in the Negev
For about one month every year (usually in February), the south is blooming with anemone flowers. Thousands flock to the South to enjoy this special time of year.
Anemone Flowers, Negev (Photos: Israel Sites & Sights / Janis Raisen)
Jerusalem is the spiritual capital of the world, capital of Israel, home to Muslims, Christians, Jews and other religions.
It is both an ancient and modern city. The light rail reaches the walls of the Old City, which beautifully bridges the old and the new. Filled with history that could, and has filled books, this is one city that every tourist visits, no matter how many times they have traveled to Israel.
(Photos: (L) Shutterstock, remaining three photos: Israel Sites & Sights / Janis Raisen)
9. Western Wall (Kotel)
Photos: (L-R) Praying at the Kotel (Western Wall), which is a remnant of the Jewish Temple; Plaque in the Western Wall Plaza on the history of the Temple. (Photos: Israel Sites & Sights / Janis Raisen)
Beaches in Tel Aviv and Eilat, (Photos: Israel Sites & Sights / Janis Raisen)
11. Tel Aviv Bike Paths
12. Mini Israel
Tucked away in Latrun, halfway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem is a hidden gem that made our list: Mini Israel.
Miniature cities in general provide a unique way to view a place that even drones cannot accomplish. Israel Sites and Sights' Janis Raisen, wrote an in-depth piece on Mini Israel for Israelseen a few years ago that takes the reader on a special journey through the country.
13. The Contrast in Landscapes
The country is small, yet, the variation in landscapes is massive.
Photos (L-R) Red Canyon, Eilat, Tzfat (Safed), Tel Aviv, Jerusalem (Photos: Israel Sites & Sights / Janis Raisen)
14. Yarkon River
The Yarkon River flows through Yarkon Park in Tel Aviv and six other municipalities. Mentioned in the bible as part of an inheritance given to the tribe of Dan. Joshua 19, Verses 40-48, even this body of water has historical significance.
The Yarkon River is beautiful to gaze upon while having a picnic in Yarkon Park in Tel Aviv, or just simply to enjoy the serene view during a walk or bike ride along the park's trails.
Boat rentals are another way to explore the river. The rental station can be found opposite Usshiskin 98, Tel Aviv, one of the streets that runs parallel to the park.
15. Easy Access to Vegan Food
Vegan food can be found in most cities, but Tel Aviv is a top vegan destination across the globe. Aside from pure vegan restaurants like Anastasia and Meshek Barzilay, most restaurants in Tel Aviv have fantastic vegan options. A few restaurants offer vegan breakfast with lentil or chickpea omelets. One popular place is Juno, which serves a lentil omelet as part of the vegan breakfast (see below).
Juno's vegan breakfast (Photos: Israel Sites & Sights / Janis Raisen)
16. Outdoor Lifestyle
People are outside on the streets for most of the year, thanks to the moderate climate.
When tourists come to Israel, visiting wineries may not even their radar, but Israel has a bustling wine industry and gorgeous wineries across the country that are worth visiting.
Masada (fortress) is a biblical site, archaeology site and World Heritage Site. It is always a top site for first-time visitors to Israel because of its historical significance, proximity to the Dead Sea, and gorgeous lookout point.
19. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF)
The IDF works day and night to keep Israel safe. Thank you, IDF!
Israel is known for its many museums from art to history and archaeology, from culture to science, and the list goes on. The country has its own museum row, and that's just in Ramat Aviv (north Tel Aviv).
Yad Vashem and the Israel Museum are always at the top of the list in Jerusalem, and the renovated Diaspora Museum, now called ANU Museum of the Jewish People, is also worth a visit.
21. Freedom of Religion
Freedom of religion is an important aspect of Israel.
Christianity, Islam and Judaism are prominently represented below in the night view of Haifa, during one of the holiday seasons, but there are many more examples.
Sukkot is a special holiday that is seen and felt throughout the week-long celebration, especially in Jerusalem, as well as kosher restaurants around the country. It's a memorable time to visit Israel.
Sukkot in Jerusalem, (Photos: Israel Sites & Sights / Janis Raisen)
23. Elite Instant Coffee
For the many Elite instant coffee addicts (like this writer), inside Israel and around the world, this is an important household staple.
24. The High-Tech Industry
From computer chips to Waze to Wix, Gett, Fiverr and more, Israel has significantly contributed to the world as the Startup Nation.
25. Diving or Snorkeling in Eilat
Eilat's Coral Beach on the south end of Eilat is one of the popular places to snorkel or dive.
26. Eilat's Dolphin Reef
The Dolphin Reef is a separate world in-and-of-itself. A place to relax on the beach, or in the relaxation pools. If you are a dolphin lover this place feels like heaven. You can hang out on the pier and look out for the dolphins swimming by, or jumping out of the water, or you can dive or snorkel around the pier with an instructor.
Operating in a humane way, the Dolphin Reef does not keep dolphins in captivity, but allows them to come and go as they please.
Advat Gal, dolphin team contact, started working at the Dolphin Reef just a few years after it opened--it opened over 30 years ago. She spoke to Israel Sites and Sights about the dolphins, and the history of the Dolphin Reef.
27. Red Sea
The Red Sea in Eilat is referred to as "Yam Suf" in Hebrew. It is the name used in the bible in the Exodus from Egypt when the Israelites crossed into Israel through the parting of Yam Suf (the Red Sea).
Aside from its biblical significance, it is breathtaking to look at, and is a top diving destination.
28.Only in Israel Moments
Part of living in Israel involves sharing stories about "Only in Israel Moments." Often comical, mostly touching, and a great way to create unity.
29. The Desert
The desert is peaceful, serene, expansive, and scenic. Nothing quite compares to, or can replace a desert visit. The desert is exhilarating, whether you hike, take a jeep tour, or go to see rare sites, like the St. George’s Monastery (below), which is built into the Judean Desert cliff.
30. The Dead Sea
The lowest place on earth is known for gorgeous views, health spas, and of course the ability to float in the sea due to the high salt concentration.
31. The Future Light Rail
Years of planning and construction have been underway to connect several cities through a massive rail network. It is a hot topic in Israel. One line is almost ready to launch.
The Red, Green and Purple Lines will run through several municipalities in central Israel. The green and purple lines are still a few years away from becoming operational. The Red Line (seen below), has been completed but is still in testing mode, at the time of publication. It will serve, Bat Yam, Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Ramat Gan, Bnei Brak and Petach Tikva.
It is set to become operational some time in 2023, following many delays.
32. The Boardwalks
33. Jerusalem High-Speed Train
The train runs between Herzliya and Jerusalem, with stops in Tel Aviv and Ben Gurion Airport. It is a new addition to the country and became fully operational in 2020.
34. Kinneret (Sea of Galilee)
This is where beauty, relaxation and history all intersect.
35. Beach Gyms
36. Proximity to Other Countries
Israel is so close to Greece, Cyprus, Jordan, and Egypt, allowing tourists to combine their Israel trips with other neighboring countries.
37. Mediterranean Sea
38. The Transit Cable Car, Haifa
The cable car was built as a quick transit solution to reach the top of the Carmel Mountain to allow easy access to the universities and adjacent neighborhoods.
39. Baked goods everywhere!
40. Coffee Shops
Tel Aviv Coffee Shops (Photos: Israel Sites & Sights / Janis Raisen)
Ashkelon Marina is one of the marinas in Israel, (Photo: Israel Sites & Sights / Janis Raisen)
42. Flights to Eilat
Aside from the short travel time, the aerial view between Tel Aviv and Eilat is gorgeous.
43. Skiing in the Winter
44. Indoor Ice Skating Year-Round
When the heat sets in during the summer months, you can go ice skating in central Israel, at the Canada Centre in the North, or inside Eilat's Ice Mall, in the South.
Ice skating rink, Ice Mall, Eilat (Photo: Israel Sites & Sights / Janis Raisen)
45. An abundance of organized and private tours
Israel has walking tours, jeep tours, bus tours, market tours, and all other kinds of specialized tours.
What Locals and Tourists Say
(#46 - #75)
"Jerusalem for the history, Tel Aviv for the nightlife and Eilat to relax." (Becca Adler, Canada)
"Israel is a place of extremes yet also has many colorful iterations of background, religious observance, cuisines, ecosystems, cultures and archaeological layers. And yet, just when you think you “get” it, it completely surprises you. Personally, it’s the bakeries and ready access to nature that I enjoy the most, even more so with family and friends." (Yuri Kruman, Haifa)
"The kindness and care of the people." (Cheryl Noik, Arad)
"The people here are so generous. As long as a person seeking help is kind, someone will help." (Lauren Adilev, Efrat)
"I love many things but maybe #1, being in my ancestral homeland." Steven Mostyn, Beit Shemesh)
"The way Israelis smile from their heart and say, 'Welcome,' when you tell them you have made aliyah." (Nathan Friedkin Tel Aviv via California)
"Kosher food everywhere! Plentiful and delicious. Fast food, street food, fancy restaurants, and everything in between. Hotels with restaurants and room service and big breakfasts. Kibbutzim with their famed chader ochel. Bus stations and gas stations. And don’t forget the ice cream!" (Sara Sudranski Seligson, Still in NY)
"Young people through serving in the army or sherut leumi, are able to learn how to work in a team, discover inner strengths and receive guidance on how to start realizing their mission in life." (Lauren Adilev, Efrat)
"It’s the only place I feel safe and at home. Everybody is nice and friendly."(Cherry Lyn del Rosario, Eilat) "I love the Chag Sameach sign on the buses."(Senja Lauderdale)
"The people." (Esther Cohen, Jerusalem)
"I love being surrounded by the festivals on the streets — like Chanukah being lit and people singing, shabbat shutting down and offering some peace, being wished Shabbat Shalom, or Yom Tov. "(Tanya Silverman, Tel Aviv)
"Strawberries, fresh so many months of the year!!!" (Lauren Shachar, Jerusalem)
"No matter where, who, what context, in person or on the phone, 'Shabbat Shalom' starts on Thursday night through all day Friday and Shabbat. Shops, buses, cabs, kupah [cashier], office — everyone and anyone wishes each other a 'Shabbat Shalom.'" (L'via Weisinger, Jerusalem)
"Everyone helping the moms with strollers get on and off the bus, or people with walkers, wheelchairs, etc." (Hasya Zahavi)
"Feeling that despite the recent protests, we are one big family living in the world's only Jewish country." (Menucha Monica Levin Landau, Jerusalem)
"The food is fresh and high quality. Salads are never boring. The Israeli breakfast is very healthy." (Tanya Silverman, Tel Aviv)
"No sugar added chocolate milk in every store." (Stuart Reichman)
"I love that Israelis, when anything serious happens, put their differences aside and become one. A complete stranger that has different political and religious beliefs than you will risk their life for you." (Rochel Faiga Robinson Steinerman)
"You get to reflect on and dwell in the history of your people, live in the present synthesis of old and new, and create the future all at the same time." (Joseph Morgan)
"The gazelle valley park — a delightful place and a link to nature inside a city—all the result of community activity. " (Sara Levene, Jerusalem)
"It’s my home, it’s the promised land for all Jews to return to. I love everything about Israel—the good and the bad." (Abi Kalish)
"The range of ethnic foods and kitchens. The ingathering has brought special dishes from around the globe. So many types of delicious!" (Michael Hoffman, Jerusalem)
"I love the coexistence and cosmopolitanism here." (Lucy Cohen, Jerusalem)
"The people here truly understand the sanctity of human life. Each one of us is a soul that matters. I have lived in four countries and visited others — there is nothing like it anywhere in the world. That is why when something happens it feels like it happens to us all. I am coming off of a Memorial Day that is nothing like the BBQs and sales in the store mentality in the US - here the loss of even one soul sends a ripple though us all." (Shlomit Metz-Poolat, Raanana)
"In the street you hear the languages of the whole world." (Sarah Van Hulst, Jerusalem)
"Israeli chutzpah always makes me feel at home." (Leah Reiner-Kornblit, Beit Shemesh)
"Hiking trails." (Robin Misgav, Jerusalem)
"The diversity of nature is amazing. Mountains to grasslands, desert to beaches. Israel has it all, and it’s all beautiful!" (Adi Detwiler, Jerusalem)
"The flexibility — the fact that everything will turn out okay because people are willing to think outside the box. The way everybody offers help." (Esther Cohen, Jerusalem)