10 Things About Israel

Stand for Israel  |  April 24, 2023

Large crowd of people outside of the Western Wall with the Israeli flag waving.
(Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

This week we celebrate two important Israeli holidays—Yom HaZikaron, which is Israel’s Memorial Day, and Yom HaAtzmaut, which is Israel’s Independence Day. In honor of these special days, we share with you 10 things that you might not know about Israel:

  1. Israel – Eretz Israel (The Land of Israel) is what the Jewish people have traditionally called the Holy Land, and this name was considered when the modern state of Israel was founded, along with Zion and Judea. But the name “Israel” was decided upon. 
shofar, High Holy Days, Rosh Hashanah
(Photo: Erik Davis)
  1. Israel is a tiny country, only the size of the state of New Jersey! 
Black and white image of five soldiers going over a piece of paper.
Public Domain per wikicommons (By Fritz Cohen (1913–1981))
  1. Israel is also a relatively young country. Despite its thousands of years of history as a people, the modern state of Israel is only 75 years old—having won her independence in 1948. 
Four Israeli Air Force planes jetting off into the sky while Israeli flags are waving and people taking pictures are on the ground.
(Photo: IFCJ 2016)
  1. Hebrew is the official language of Israel, with 90% of the people able to speak it. Arabic is also recognized. Most signs in Israel feature both languages, as well as English. And on the streets of Israel, you’ll hear many more languages—Israel is a nation of olim (immigrants), so you might run into Israelis from Ukraine and elsewhere around the former Soviet Union, from South America, from Europe, or from Ethiopia! 
A young boy who just got off an Aliyah flight, among other families waving an Israeli flag.
(Photo: Ilan Assayag)
  1. While Israel is a Jewish state, for the Jewish people, created from the ashes of the Holocaust, Israel is also the Middle East’s only democracy, and a place that welcomes people of any faith—Jews, Christians, Muslims, Druze, or anyone else. 
Rabbi Eckstein walking outside with a Druze leader.
(Photo: IFCJ 2012)
  1. The Israel Defense Forces is Israel’s military, protecting the nation from her enemies on all sides. At the age of 18, most Israelis enter IDF service—women for two years, and men for almost three years, with reserve duty after their active service ends. 
Yael Eckstein standing in front of a line of men, and an Israeli flag waving at the end.
Photo taken prior to COVID-19. (Photo: Arik Shraga)
  1. Israel is often called the “Startup Nation”—it has the most startups per capita of any nation, and the second most overall, behind its greatest ally, the United States. 
Person tapping on their phone while resting their hands on a computer keyboard.
(Photo: istockphoto.com/TommL 2012)
  1. Israel’s three largest cities are Tel Aviv (known for its beaches and night life), Haifa (a harbor city, built on the slopes of Mount Carmel), and Jerusalem (the Holy City, known for its Old City). 
Aerial view of a large crowd of people walking towards the Western Wall to pray.
(Photo: Eli Mandelbaum)
  1. But there are biblical sites all across Israel—it IS the Holy Land, after all! From the Sea of Galilee to the Red Sea, God’s Word truly comes alive when you visit Israel, the land where the Bible happened! 
The sun rising over the Sea of Galilee as a single boat is in the water.
Sunrise over Sea of Galilee (Photo: IFCJ 2018)
  1. When in Israel, as when visiting anywhere, the food is a highlight. From shakshuka to hummus, from falafel to Israeli salad, Israeli cuisine is flavored by the fact that Israel is a land of immigrants—Mizrachi, Sephardic, and Ashkenazi Jewish traditions mixed with Arab, Ethiopian, and countless others have made Israeli food truly unique. 
Nine baskets of spices in tan bowls all labeled in a market.
(Photo: Nati Shohat/Flash90 2011)