In honor of Israel's 59th Independence Day, I give you 13 reasons I love living in Israel:
1. The beautiful, green north - flowers, mountains, the Sea of Galilee, gourmet restaurants and little bed and breakfasts everywhere, even snow in the winter. Northern Israel's got it all. (Yes, Israel has deserts too, in the south, but personally I prefer the green of the north.)
2. An amazing collection of national parks - everything from nature hikes to Crusader castles to antiquities.
3. The Gan HaShlosha Hot Springs - beautiful heated springs in a lush, oasis-like setting. Especially lovely during a stolen day off the week when the rest of the hordes are hard at work.
4. Tel Aviv - small enough to be accessible, large enough to be truly international in flavor. With a beach to boot. Outdoor cafes you can enjoy all year round. What more could you ask?
5. Jerusalem - often fraught with tension and a hard city to live in, but there is no doubt that it is one of the most beautiful cities on earth. At sunset it truly is "Jerusalem of Gold".
6. The weather. 8 months of warm sunshine every year - need I say more? Long hot summers where your plans never get rained out. Even in the winter it rarely goes below the mid-50's (mid-teens centigrade). You have to love a country where winter looks like this, or like this.
7. The Mediterranean Sea - I live just 20 minutes away from gorgeous beaches - on the Mediterranean.
8. Palm trees - how did this NY girl end up living surrounded by palm trees? Not to mention banana trees, and pomegranates, and citrus trees, and...
9. The food - good, fresh, inexpensive ingredients are available everywhere, and esoteric imported ingredients are now nearly as easy to obtain. Most restaurants here still cook everything fresh every day. No iceberg lettuce and bottled blue cheese dressing salads here. And the summer drinks - freshly made iced coffee is available at almost every restaurant and cafe in the summertime, and fresh squeezed lemonade is a staple all year round.
10. The diversity. Israel is a country of immigrants, with people from literally every country on the globe, who together make up this wonderful human mosaic that is Israel.
11. A truly incredible variety of things to do with children - this country really revolves around its kids, and it shows.
12. The predominant culture here is my culture. It's the way I say Happy New Year in September, the way no one assumes I'm celebrating Christmas in December (or wants to know why I'm not), and so many other little things.
And last but not least...
13. The way Israelis truly care about each other. We may often act rough and aggressive, and we do love to argue, but when trouble strikes no one pulls together the way we do. Differences are forgotten, at least temporarily, in a rush to help others. During the war last summer, there were so many residents of the center of the country who opened their homes to total strangers fleeing from the bombings in the north that when my family tried to do the same we didn't find any takers.
I could go on and on (must be the spring - life here just feels great right now), but better yet, come on over and see for yourselves.
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