The 72 Most Israeli Things
Updated: May 5
For Israel's 72nd Yom Ha'atzmaut, we decided to make a list, with your help of course, of the 72 things that define Israel, in 9 different categories.
Today is our wonderful country's 72nd birthday. Wow, who would have thought? Although in "country terms" 72 really isn't that much and compared to the rest of the world, Israel has gone through so much in these 7 decades that sometimes it feels more like 720 years and not 72.
Seven wars, four Eurovision titles, countless military operations, terrorist attacks, two peace treaties, the Declaration of Independence, Prime Minister assassination...these are just a drop in the sea of events this country has been through and witnessed during these 72 years and what a ride it has been.
Remember we asked you for your input about what is "Most Israeli"? Well, this is what we put together!
The 72 Most Israeli Things
Songs / Singers / Places / People / Food / Historical Events /
# 1 Most Israeli Songs
After the song won the 1979 Eurovision contest, it was announced on the radio that it will replace Hatikvah as the Israeli National Anthem, which later turned out to be an April Fools' prank.
A year after the song was released in 1971, an Italian rock band named "Capsicum Red" turned it into an Italian rock song. They used that version without receiving copyright permissions from its writer until 2002!
We were so shocked you chose this song! Just kidding, we knew it would be a top result, and we couldn't be happier! We are always proud of our National Anthem!
This song is one of the most famous Israel-related songs in the world and has received major international PR over the years. It is sung by the Ajax and Tottenham Hotspurs soccer club fans, as these clubs are famous for their large Jewish fanbase.
The song that Naomi Shemer released right before the Six-Day War has gained some criticism over the years, due to its political connotations. Nevertheless, most people believe that this song is what declared Naomi Shemer as an Israeli National Poet.
The meaning of the word Freha has racial connotations in Israel, so the song has caused many disputes over the years. At some point in the 1990s, Ofra Haza refused to sing the song at her performances.
Some people believe the song is based on an old German commercial for the cigarette brand Sa'alam Aleikum.
This protest song was written by none other than David Grossman and is comprised solely of slogans from political stickers he began collecting after Rabin's assassination in 1995.
The song was written by Naomi Shemer during the Yom Kippur War in 1973 and became a main symbol of the war. Even before the war, Shemer decided she wanted to write a Hebrew version for the Beatles song Let it be.
The catchy song includes recordings of no less than 34 different Israeli artists. The song's clip is a collage comprised of selfies that each artist took, after choosing where they wanted their picture to be taken.
# 2 Most Israeli Singers
Artzi began his singing career in the IDF navy band and gained his fame after winning the Israel Song Festival in 1970.
In 2009, Omer Adam participated in Star is Born competition, but was kicked out after telling them he was 16 when he was in fact still 15. 11 years later, Adam is one of the most successful singers in Israel, we guess he showed them.
Israeli radio host Yoav Kutner gave Einstein the accurate description: "Arik Einstein is more than just the greatest Israeli singer. Einstein is the real Israel". Naomi Shemer Naomi Shemer began learning to play the piano at the age of 6, and her first job was as a rhythmic teacher. Surprising huh? We feel like she became our national poet from birth!
Haza's parents came to Israel from Yemen and named her Bat Sheva, but for some reason, her sisters didn't like the name and changed it to Ofra.
Netta Barzilai This internationally loved singer was close to missing her ticket to the Eurovision, but the judges for the song contest decided to keep her on the show, and we all know how that ended..
Golan is one of the most successful artists in Israeli history. He has sold over three million albums over the years.
Sarit Hadad used to run away from home as a kid to perform at nightclubs, and even won a talent contest due to her skillful piano playing, even though she didn't know how to read the notes.
Hanoh is one of the frontiers in Israeli rock music and is considered a pillar in Israeli music.
You might not know this, but Dudu Aharon participated in the Israeli version of The Bachelor. And no, we're not kidding. He really did.
# 3 Most Israeli Places
Shuk Mahane Yehuda, Jerusalem
Ben Gurion Airport
# 4 Most Israeli People
Yehoram Gaon The Jerusalem-born singer is what we call a true Sabra. He is a successful singer, writer, actor, and much, much more. He played in dozens of films and shows, including the role of Yoni Netanyahu in the Mivtza Yonatan film about the Entebbe Operation.
David Ben Gurion
Ben Gurion started doing headstands after his doctor recommended it to him. He told him it would help his health because his head was too big for his body.
Sivan Rahav Meir
Rahav Meir published her first book at the age of 17 and received her Bachelor's Degree by the age of 18.
Bibi, your choice as one of the most Israeli people, secretly married Sarah, his third wife, in his parent's home, with a shortlist of 25 attendants.
He was a pioneer of Israeli rock music and was named "the Voice of Israel".
# 5 Most Israeli Food
The falafel is originally an Egyptian dish that quickly became an Israeli national dish, and it even had a song written all about it in the 1950s in Israel (Shir HaFalafel).
We're sorry to inform you, but this Israeli favorite is, in fact, a North African dish. Not that it really matters, we love it either way.
Like most of the other Israeli favorites, this dish was imported from one of our neighbor countries, this time from Turkey.
Every fourth snack purchased in Israel is a bag of Bamba. In one minute 450 bags are manufactured in Israel, that's 27,000 in an hour!
93% of Israelis eat hummus on a weekly basis, and yet it is only mentioned in 55 songs.
Originally brought over by Iraqi Jews, and the name originated from the Arabic word sabah (morning) since the Jews in Iraq used to eat this dish on the Sabbath morning.
Everyone loves kubah in Israel. The dish that was brought by Iraqi and Syrian Jews has more than 20 versions.
This Yemenite delicacy was originally eaten as a sweet dish, with halva and sugar, and not with tomatoes and hard-boiled eggs like it is commonly eaten today.
Arayes is the plural for the word arus, the Arabic word for a bride. This Arabic dish was served for newlyweds in some Arabic communities around the world.
Burekas, is, in fact, the plural word for burekah. A common Hebrew mistake made by most Israelis.
# 6 Most Israeli Historical Events
Six-Day War In the Arabic countries the war is referred to as the June War, so to avoid the shame of the war's results.
Declaration of Independence
The British Mandate was supposed to end on Saturday, May 15th, but because they wanted to avoid making the declaration on the Sabbath, the ceremony was pushed forward to Friday, the 14th at 16:00 pm.
War of Independence
Around 3,000 people from overseas volunteered to fight for Israel in the war, some of them were not even Jewish. Most of the first Israeli Airforce crews were from this group of volunteers.
The operation was originally named Operation Thunderbolt, but after Yoni Netanyahu's death (the officer in charge of the operation) its name was changed to Operation Yoni.
Yom Kippur war
Leonard Cohen came to perform in Israel during the war, and his album New Skin for the Old Ceremony was inspired by his experience.
Peace Treaty with Egypt
Peace Treaty with Jordan
This agreement ended the state of war between the two countries since the 1948 War and established mutual diplomatic relations. It also established peace between the two countries, and the treaty also settled land and water disputes.
Yitzhak Rabin's Assassination
After his assassination, Malhei Yisrael Square's name was changed to Kikar Rabin.
All the Aliyot
Since the establishment of the state, over 3.2 Olim made their way to Israel. Those numbers keep on rising all the time!
Participation in the 1970 World Cup
The 1970 World Cup in Mexico was the first and only time Israel participated in the tournament.
# 7 Most Israeli Books
מִישֶׁהוּ לָרוּץ אִתּוֹ - Mishehu Larutz Itto
Written by David Grossman, one of Israel's most famous authors, the story takes place in many different areas in Jerusalem and was adapted into a great award-winning film.
אִם יֵשׁ גַּן עֵדֶן - Im Yesh Gan Eden
This meaningful book was translated into 11 languages, including Russian, Portuguese, and even Chinese. We guess people around the world are interested in what happens in the IDF, and rightfully so.
מַעֲשֶׂה בַּחֲמִשָּׁה בָּלוֹנִים - Ma'aseh Bahamisha Balonim
Miriam Ruth, the book's author, has written 22 children's books, and she only started writing at the age of 64. Amazing.
דִּירָה לְהַשְׂכִּיר - Dirah Lehaskir
An all-time favorite by Leah Goldberg, is still a bestselling book in Israel, since 1959.
קִצּוּר תּוֹלְדוֹת הָאֱנוֹשׁוּת - Kitzur Toldot Ha'enoshut
This groundbreaking book is famous all around the world and has been translated into over 40 languages.
# 8 Most Israeli Movies
סַלַאח שַׁבַּתִּי - Salah Shabati
The Israeli film from 1964 was the first Israeli film to be nominated for an Oscar and the first to win a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film.
Hagiga BaSnooker is an Israeli comedy film from 1975. The film's cast includes all the famous actors of that time, such as Ze'ev Revah and Yehuda Barkan, and is considered one of the most famous Israeli films of all time!
The movie was filmed in the Nimrod Castle on Mount Hermon, which was made to look exactly like the Beaufort Fort in Lebanon. The film creator had to borrow a lot of military equipment from the IDF in order to create this unique set, and the movie's investment is estimated at around 2.5 million dollars.
Many of the film's storylines are based on real-life events from the film creator's life. If you watch the film, you'll understand why that sounds so crazy.
One of the most favorite Israeli series of all time has a cult following of Israelis of all ages. The film has nine versions, and the first one from 1978 became the top-grossing Israeli film of all time (1,350,000 tickets were sold in Israel alone).
# 9 Most Israeli Words
Sababa - סבבה
Arabic slang for good, great. You will probably hear any Israeli use this word at some point or other, most definitely on a daily basis.
Nu - נו
Nu is, in fact, a Yiddish term, used to hurry someone up. In Israeli culture, as you probably would assume- this word is used by everyone.
Yalla - יאללה
Another Arabic slang word, much like the Yiddish word Nu, is used to hurry someone up.
Ahi - אחי
Ahi means "my brother" in Hebrew, and used in many different connotations, such as an army lingo, or just in casual talk amongst friends.
Bassa - באסה
Bassa is Arabic slang meaning bummer and is used constantly.
Ahla - אחלה
Ahla means great. In the old days, people used to say Ahla Bahla. If you use that term nowadays, people will probably view you as an Israeli Boomer.
Salamtak - סלמנטק
Salamtak is a Hebrew slang word that basically means very well, or good, or perfect, depending on the sentence or its context.
Salamtak is a great word to end this list.
Things in Israel aren't always easy, some days are hard here, and some days are great, but one thing is for sure- the Israeli spirit is always salamtak. No matter how tough things can get, the people in Israel always know how to stick together, and turn lemons into lemonade (even though Israelis love lemons and sour stuff as well, but that's for a different blog).
So always remember, no matter what the situation is, just keep saying to yourself hakol salamtak, and you should be fine!