Yom Ha’atzmaut has just finished and here we are, going straight into Shabbat, so it’s time to celebrate with another Good News Friday post.
Since we’re still in the flag-waving patriotic mood, now is a good time to take a step back and absorb the astounding fact that at a mere 68 years old, Israel’s population has grown to 10 times the size it was at its founding in 1948, with 8.5 million inhabitants:
On the eve of Israel’s 68th birthday, the country’s population stands at 8,522,000, according to figures released Monday by the Central Bureau of Statistics.
There are 6,377,000 Jewish Israelis, 74.8% of the total population, and 1,771,000 Arab Israelis, 20.8% of the population, the bureau said. Christians, non-Arabs, and other minority groups account for 374,000 people, or 4.4% of the population.
By comparison, the nascent State of Israel had a population of just 806,000 in 1948.
In the 12 months since last Independence Day, the population increased by 182,000 people, a growth of 2.2%, the CBS said. During that period, 195,000 babies were born, 47,000 people passed away and some 36,000 new immigrants arrived in Israel. There are also some 192,000 foreigners in the country, based on figures from 2014.
Among the Jewish population, 75% are Israeli-born, of whom more than half are at least second-generation Israelis. In 1948, however, just 35% of the Jews living in Israel were born in pre-state Palestine.
In 1948, there was only one city in Israel that had more than 100,000 residents — Tel Aviv. Today, there are 14 cities with more than 100,000 residents and eight cities that have a population of 200,000 or more — Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Rishon Lezion, Petah Tikva, Ashdod, Netanya, and Beersheba.
We have so much to be grateful for and so much to be proud of. As one Tweeter put it:
It is also very cheering to read that not only Israelis and not only Jews celebrated Yom Ha’atzmaut yesterday. Thousands of non-Jewish supporters of Israel celebrated too:
Jews weren’t the only ones celebrating 68 years since the miraculous rebirth of the Jewish state in Israel on Memorial Day Thursday, as thousands of non-Jewish supporters worldwide showed their love by waving the Israeli flag.
The heartwarming display of support came from thousands of members of Lev Haolam, an organization that sends monthly packages of varied goods produced by small businesses in Judea and Samaria whose site can be viewed here.
A week ago Lev Haolam sent out Israeli flags to its customers worldwide as a gesture for Independence Day, and many of them took the initiative to photograph themselves with the flag in their countries.
Within hours of the packages with the flags having arrived at the doorsteps of the customers, Lev Haolam received dozens of pictures of the Israel supporters proudly waving the flag in Germany, Canada, the US, Holland, Norway and other locations.
Watch this wonderful heart-warming video:
Kol hakavod to Lev Haolam which works tirelessly and successfully to “bridge the gap between the treatise of lies spread daily by anti-Semitic sources who want to harm the Zionist enterprise, and between the truth of people of the land of Israel who live in simplicity and faith.” And of course a hearty kol hakavod to all of our supporters all over the world.
On the same subject, of non-Jews supporting Israel, here is an incredible video, reminding us of our indigenous rights in this Land, (something so persistently pounded into us by indigenous rights activist Ryan Bellerose – who, if you don’t follow him already, you should!), This is a very surprisingly correct description of Zionism by Malika Mazan, a Moroccan Amazigh (Berber) activist (via Zvi). What I find amazing is not only Mazan’s analysis of Zionism, but her condemnation of the Arabs wanting to usurp Israel:
Another Muslim who “gets it” about Israel is Ramy Aziz, who writes about “The Israel that Arabs don’t know“, in his report on his visit to Israel and how all his suspicions and previously held biases fell away (via Haya Eytan):
On the road from the Ben Gurion Airport to Jerusalem (al-Quds)–Israel’s political capital–I saw wide, clean roads, filled with trees and captivating natural scenery. I took notes on everything, in line with my mission to relay the truth of life inside Israel. Once I had arrived in the political capital, I visited the Ministry of Exterior, the Knesset, and the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum.
I met with both Arabs and Jews of Arab origin, and they recounted their memories of life in Iraq, Egypt, and the other countries from which they had come. I listened to how they had left those countries after bitter experiences of incitement and hatred. Life had brought them to a place where they peacefully coexisted. Unfortunately, the truth of coexistence has been muddled with the help of many media organizations.
In another repudiation of another false claim, my visits to places of worship were not stopped or barred from entry by either the Israeli army or police force, as they have been rumored to do, despite the escalating incitement and violence in the city. Life in the holy city goes on, filled with vitality during all hours of the night and day. It is a city that does not sleep, filled with people from all over the world.
Read his whole article. It is fascinating to learn about his misguided preconceptions of Israel and then to see his surprise on discovering the pleasant reality, and finally his enjoyment of the country and its people. If only more Arabs would have the honesty and open-mindedness to allow themselves to see the reality of Israel and not just believe in propaganda.
Not only Jews are indigenous to Israel. Date palms are too! Watch this great video about “Methuselah, the Judean Date Palm” that was “resurrected” from date pips that were found by renowned Israeli archeologist Yigael Yadin at Massada:
What an amazing discovery and what an even more amazing revival of an ancient species. The parallels with the Jewish nation are so relevant to today.
And one final story of a Jewish artefact coming home, a centuries-old copy of the Oreiyt, the Ge’ez-language versian of the Torah, was brought to Israel in March, (although the story was only published on Pesach):
A rare copy of the Oeiryt [Torah] used by Ethiopian Jews was welcomed into the collection of the National Library on Monday, 21.3.2016′ to the sounds of singing, spontaneous dancing, ululations, and the handing out of sweets.
The book, translated from Hebrew to the ancient Ge’ez language, was written hundreds of years ago and was used by, among others, the great spiritual leader of Ethiopian Jews in the Tigray Region Kes Isaac Yaso The original hand-written manuscript of the “Oreiyt” (the word stems from the Aramaic word “oreiyta,” meaning Torah) contains the Five Books of Moses along with the books of Joshua, Judges and the Book of Ruth. The Oreiyt is part of the matsahaf qados (the Holy Scripture) of the Ethiopian community.
The book figured prominently in the life of the community: the celebration of festivals and holidays as well as the daily lives of the Jews of Ethiopia were conducted according to it and the community attributes it great sanctity. With his immigration to Israel the Kes decreed that the book was destined for Jerusalem, and now it has reached its intended ultimate destination.
This is a very rare treasure as there are almost no existing copies of the Oreiyt either in Israel or the world.
“There is no doubt that acquiring this unique manuscript, among the few that exist, constitutes a significant and important contribution to our efforts to document the religious and cultural life of the Jewish communities,” says Curator of Judaica Dr. Yoel Finkelman. “We will preserve the manuscript, scan it, and upload the images to the internet, and make sure that the volume continues to be accessible to the public at large and to members of the community in particular for many generations to come.”
What a fantastic story, and what a happy ending for this holy book and for the wonderful Ethiopian Jewish community. Kol hakavod to all of those involved in bringing the Bible to Israel and in its preservation for future generations.
And now, with these heart-warming stories, I wish you all Shabbat Shalom.