With all of the information on this website, I would be remiss if I did not include some thoughts on the Spirit of Israel.
The Land of Israel is the sacred inheritance of the Jewish People. That we have been able to return after 2,000 years of exile is a modern day miracle.
I see with clarity the protection of Heaven hovering over us. I see it in the way we thrive as a nation: In a mere 70 years, we have blossomed beyond all expectations, making the land green and developing in a dozen spheres. We stand strong – an island of stability in a part of the world that is filled with chaos.
We are blessed.
Israel is the only Jewish state in the world. We function on Jewish time, and with a Jewish ethos.
That ethos is marked by a dedication to reaching out to others in times of trouble, and an eagerness to share our innovations. The breadth of the ways in which we provide assistance is enormous, ranging from instruction in drip irrigation in order to enhance agricultural yields in poverty-stricken third world villages; to teaching circumcision in African countries to counter AIDs; providing medical assistance to wounded Syrian children and setting up field hospitals when natural disasters strike.
We are, truly, a light unto the nations. *
Our people have returned to Israel from over 70 nations, and so our population is exceptionally diverse and our culture vibrant. Interactions can be fractious, as we learn to become one once again, but they are filled with energy, and, in the end, a sense of family bonding. “Only in Israel” stories of people reaching out with kindness are common.
Our social relationships are marked by informality and a democratic spirit – it is acceptable to challenge authority and the status quo. In addition, our culture encourages asking of questions: the traditional mode by which Jewish texts have always been studied has honed skills that now make us uniquely adept at problem solving. Taken together, these cultural inclinations are at the heart of our singular ability to innovate.
The resilience of Israelis, their determination to choose life, even in the face of great hardship – to not only continue but to live with purpose – is awe-inspiring.
Israel has been ranked as the 11th happiest nation in the world. This in and of itself is remarkable, given the challenges Israel faces. One commentator,** however, argues that Israel should be ranked first, because, as he put it, the top ten are not “in the thick of it,” but rather “cocoon-like places” facing very little in the way of international challenges. Israel ranks up there in spite of contending with such issues as genocidal calls for our destruction.
This is nothing short of amazing.
I believe our happiness derives from a deep sense of meaning, and of connectedness – the feeling of being part of something larger than oneself.
Israelis have the highest birthrate in the Western world, and a significantly higher birthrate than those countries that are ranked in the top 10 for happiness. Our birthrate is 3.11 children per woman, compared with the OECD average of 1.7.
What is more, Israel has a lower suicide rate than those top 10 countries (with the exception of Denmark, where statistics are lacking).
Wow! What an expression of hope and faith in the future.
Not incidentally, Israelis know how to say, “Thanks to God.”
*Noted attorney Alan Dershowitz says, “No country in the history of the world ever contributed more to the welfare of humankind in such a short period of time than Israel.”