Compliments of Anglo Saxon Ra’anana Real Estate
Quote for the Week
“For every problem in the world recognized as insoluble, there is at least one Israeli energetically working on it,”
Dr. Garry Neil, vice president of the Corporate Office of Science and Technology at pharmaceutical giant, Johnson & Johnson, and he should know. Is this the secret of our overwhelming success? Could very well be.
The weather was perfect, a glorious spring day correcting the oft-held notion that Israel has only two seasons – summer [very long] and winter [very short] and while we’ve lived through a number of them in this amazing country of ours, is it our imagination that we seem to feel that they’re more joyous, more exciting and more pride-inducing from year to year? We’re talking about Yom Ha’atzmaut, Independence Day, the 63rd of which we celebrated on Tuesday this week. Now, it’s impossible to describe this special day in words but we’re going to try our best so please read on:
As they do on the eve of Independence Day every year, the Central Bureau of Statistics published the population figures for the year, on Sunday. Israel has surpassed the 7.7 million mark, a growth of 2 percent since this time last year, according to the CBS, and they’re always right. There’s been an increase of 155,000 citizens – not enough – since Independence Day last year. The joyous news is that there have been 178,000 Mazal Tov’s for that number of babies born which included our first great grandchild; we thought we’d mention her because the CBS didn’t. Close to 24,500 immigrants arrived, of those 6,500 were ex-pat Israelis returning home, a really encouraging figure. We look forward to a doubling of those figures at least, on Yom Ha’Atsmaut 5772.
Nefesh B’Nefesh that wonderful organization, held a unique Independence Day party in Jerusalem in honor of the 250 new Israeli babies born this past year to NBN immigrants, who are celebrating their first Yom Ha’atsmaut, the babies that is – there was a photograph in the local press of some of them each decked out in blue and white –beautiful-. Since its founding in 2002, over 2,100 “sabra” babies have been born to the 27,000+ North American and British olim that Nefesh B’Nefesh, together with the Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, has assisted with their aliyah. What can we say but, Ken Yirbu. May the tribe increase!
There were young ladies – 34 of them -, young men -86 of them-, Druze and Bedouin, religious and secular, those whose forebears came from Europe and those whose families hailed from Africa and the Middle East. There were new immigrants and fourth and fifth generation Israelis but as the Chief of Staff, Rav Aluf Benny Ganz said as he introduced them to President Peres: ‘These officers and soldiers have come from all over the country, from all branches of the IDF, from different walks of life and different religious, national and ethnic backgrounds, but collectively, they could be described as Israel’s finest.” ‘They’ were the 120 Outstanding Soldiers who started the day with a parade and award winning ceremony at the Presidential Residence.
Then there was the stunning fly past by a squadron of IAF F16’s – a Jewish air force with Jewish pilots – among the best in the world -, Jewish crew, in fact everybody’s Jewish. We just thought we’d mention it. They were joined by helicopters, transport aircraft and four Boeings from the El Al fleet. So what was different about it all? Not something you would have noticed from the ground. The captain of one of those gigantic aircraft was a lady, a pilot of considerable experience. Her husband had this to say: “They say women can’t drive [Us: Who would dare say a thing like that?!] She is a superb pilot and a great person.” How nice. The four El Al planes received new names: One of them, a Boeing 777 was renamed “Gilad Shalit”, a sad note amongst all the happiness.
But it wasn’t all warriors and spectacular high flying. Serious, really serious young contestants from twenty different countries were displaying their encyclopedic knowledge of the Book of Books, the Bible, the one we gave to the world at the International Bible Quiz. Just as tense and exciting in its own way as all the other events but with a little less fanfare, as the contestants displayed their breathtaking mastery of this dense text. The winner was 16 year old Shlomi Edelman, with Noam Hadad taking second place. An interesting statistic: Some 11,800 youth participated in the various stages of the competition this year, compared to only, [only!] 6,600 last year.
So what were Yossi and Sarah Israel doing while all the above superstars were strutting their stuff? Well, nearly two million of them hit the road and traveled the length and breadth of the country visiting its various beautiful nature reserves with many spending a relaxing time in picnic areas. In Tel Aviv too, thousands went to the city parks shlepping along the ubiquitous ‘mangel’ or barbecue to the uninitiated, and the beaches were packed with thousands who also came to watch the Israeli Air Force fly-bys. It was one really big street party and some.
And towards the close of a high powered day a ceremony at which the State of Israel paid homage to those who have recorded a life time’s achievement in areas covering virtually every field of human endeavor, by presenting them with the country’s top civilian award, the Israel Prize. There were prizes for aeronautics and law, fine art and music, life sciences, philosophy and a whole spectrum of contributions to humanity in between. One could not but be impressed by their attainments but also by their dignified graciousness and noble bearing. What beautiful people they are.
Not part of the Independence Day festivities but cause for celebration nevertheless, the 12th Asian Physics Olympiad was held in Israel for the first time in the competition’s history, The Olympiad, going since 2000, is held annually for high school students from Asia and the Oceania regions. The young scientists are given theoretical and practical physics problems that involve calculus, quantum physics, thermodynamics, molecular physics and all those recondite and obscure mysteries that delight the physicist and leave lay people like us looking like a bunch of rustic bumpkins. There were a gold, a silver, two bronzes and two Honorable Mentions for the Israelis. 120 representatives from 14 countries participated including youngsters from states that don’t have diplomatic ties with Israel. There was a lot of hard work going on but outside of the competition they had a ball!
Two sports items to end with: Israeli golfer Laetitia Beck who hails from Caesarea, home of the game in Israel, earned the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Rookie of the Year. Latetia is on a bursary at Duke University and the ACC is a collegiate athletic league that controls competition for its twelve member universities in Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Is the title a big deal? With the standard of sport at US universities, yes it is. Beck was also named to the 12-person All-ACC squad. Shahar Pe’er is into the third round of the Italian Open in Rome after beating Alisa Kleybanova 6-3, 7-5 to advance to the last 16 on Wednesday.
[Thanks to reader Steven Weil for the golf item]