It’s been a phenomenal year for ISRAEL21c. We’ve broken every record for Internet hits since we were founded in December 2001, and have seen our social-media traffic rise by 60 percent in the last year alone.

In July, we launched our newly designed website, and in November launched two unique and exciting new projects – ISRAEL21c Español, our new Spanish language site, and EDUCATORS21c, a monthly e-newsletter designed for educators who want to make today’s Israel vibrant and alive for their students.

A cursory glance at some of the main headlines on Israel in the mainstream press this year would make for chilling reading, but at ISRAEL21c we focus on the technological advances, the cultural developments and the incredible humanitarian projects emerging from Israel that are making life better for millions of people around the world.

This is the Israel that the world rarely sees, and it’s our mission to bring these stories into focus. Thanks to your help, that’s exactly what we are doing.

It was a year of great stories at ISRAEL21c. Find all your favorites below.

  1. Chicken without slaughter
Image via Shutterstock.com
Image via Shutterstock.com

This is one of those stories that repels and attracts in equal measure. For some, the instinctive reaction to news that the Israeli nonprofit organization Modern Agriculture Foundation (MAF) is researching the mass production of cultured chicken breast, created from the single cell of a real bird, was revulsion; for others it seemed like the ideal solution to much of today’s rather unsavory methods of raising and killing animals.

For the volunteer researchers at MAF, the idea of tissue-engineered chicken breast is the answer to the world’s growing food crisis. Every day 23 million chickens are killed for food in the US alone – that’s a whole lot of resources that could potentially have been used in a better way.

Our November story went viral, notching almost 200,000 hits in just one day, and sparking a lively debate on the Internet. Koby Barak, executive director of the MAF, told us: “We got a lot of attention from ISRAEL21c’s story. We received a lot of emails from around the world, places we never thought about. And other media outlets picked it up from ISRAEL21c and wrote their own stories.”

  1. 67 spectacular photographs of Israel
Caesarea’s beautiful harbor. Photo by Roy Katalan
Caesarea’s beautiful harbor. Photo by Roy Katalan

To celebrate Israel’s 67th anniversary, we asked some of the country’s best photographers if we could compile some of their pictures to give readers all over the world an idea of just how beautiful Israel can be. The resulting slideshow was a tremendous success. Our readers loved the photos, and shared them widely all over the Internet. It’s a joy to look at.

  1. 12 impossible ideas that Israelis made possible
There’s no such thing as impossible in Israel. Photo by www.shutterstock.com
There’s no such thing as impossible in Israel. Photo by www.shutterstock.com

This was most certainly my favorite story of the year and one that I felt best summed up the Israeli spirit of creativity. Over the years at conferences, interviews and meetings, I’ve heard Israeli entrepreneurs tell me again and again that when they first came up with their idea, people in the industry told them it was impossible.

For many that would have been enough to put them off the idea; not in Israel, however, where “impossible” is just one more hurdle to leap. It was too strong a theme to miss, so we put together some of the best in a story on the top 12 impossible ideas that Israelis have turned into technologies.

A classroom for ADHD teens

The yoga-ball chairs let students expend energy while learning. Photo by Roi Mizrahi/Xnet
The yoga-ball chairs let students expend energy while learning. Photo by Roi Mizrahi/Xnet

As the mother of a child with ADHD, this story struck a chord with me. It obviously did the same for people all over the world. Of course children with attention deficit problems or learning disorders need special facilities in the classroom, and with more and more children being diagnosed it makes sense to think about schooling in a different way. Darca High School in Kiryat Malachi has done just this.

The school opened a unique “Yes I can!” classroom that includes bouncy chairs made with yoga balls (a good solution for everyone given that sitting has now been identified as a health hazard), distraction-free décor, walled-off workstations, desks on wheels and a living green wall. The innovative classroom will be set up in the Darca network’s other 24 high schools and interest has been piqued all over the world in the classroom’s design, in creative solutions for ADHD-adjusted learning environments and especially in purchasing the special seats.

  1. Israel’s hottest upcoming bands
  2. Ester Rada. Photo: courtesy
    Ester Rada. Photo: courtesy

Innovation in Israel doesn’t just stay in the technological area; it spills into every single area of life, so it’s no surprise that the same creativity and originality you can find behind every exciting new app or gadget is also at the heart of Israel’s cultural scene.

Israel’s vibrant and wildly eclectic music scene is attracting attention worldwide. At the start of last year we asked some of the country’s music critics which artists we should be watching in the year ahead. They gave us a list of the best new emerging artists, many of whom have gone on to great things this year.

  1. 9 off-the-beaten-track places to visit
Boating through the underground reservoir in Ramla. Photo via BibleWalks.com
Boating through the underground reservoir in Ramla. Photo via BibleWalks.com

We all know where we are supposed to go on a trip to Israel – Masada, the Old City of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv beach … but what about the places that are off the beaten track, the places only the locals know?

We talked to tour guides and shared our own local knowledge to come up with a list of great places that will give you a whole new experience of Israel, from hidden underground lakes to hexagonal pools and sculpture roads.

  1. Bamba prevents allergy
Bamba production line at the Strauss plant in southern Israel. Photo by Moshe Shai/FLASH90
Bamba production line at the Strauss plant in southern Israel. Photo by Moshe Shai/FLASH90

Israelis have known it for years, but it’s taken the world a little longer to catch up. Now the proof is in. The Learning Early About Peanut Allergy (LEAP) study, published in Britain this year, shows that early exposure to peanuts – yes, those pesky nuts that are being banned from schools all over the world – actually help protect from peanut allergies.

How did we find out? The most popular snack in Israel is Bamba, a peanut-flavored snack that parents often give to their children when they are very small. Studies show that 90 percent of families buy it on a regular basis, and yet the incidence of peanut allergy in Israel remains remarkably low.

In the study, supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and conducted by the NIAID-funded Immune Tolerance Network (ITN), researchers found that the very low rates of peanut allergy in Israeli children were a result of high levels of peanut consumption from a young age.

  1. Quiz: How well do you know Israel?
Fun on Independence Day in Israel. Photo by FLASH90
Fun on Independence Day in Israel. Photo by FLASH90

For Israel’s 67th Independence Day, we thought we’d have a bit of fun and challenge our readers to a quiz to find out just how much they really know about Israel.

The quiz was a fabulous success, but most interestingly of all – not a single reader managed to get all the questions answered correctly. Why not try it now? Perhaps you’ll be the first to get it all right.

  1. An app that offers an alternative to hyperactivity medications 
 The Myndlift team, from left: CEO Aziz Kaddan, customer relations specialist Amr Khalaily, lead developer Hilal Diab and CTO Anas Abu Mukh. Photo: courtesy
The Myndlift team, from left: CEO Aziz Kaddan, customer relations specialist Amr Khalaily, lead developer Hilal Diab and CTO Anas Abu Mukh. Photo: courtesy

Ritalin is one of the most common medications to treat attention disorders today, but it also has many serious side effects, including – most significantly for growing kids – a suppressive effect on appetite, which can lead to growth impairment.

Israeli company Myndlift believes it has an alternative — an app that uses neurofeedback to improve attention disorders without any of these negative side effects. Neurofeedback is a computer-based technique developed and tested by NASA to improve attention, focus and learning by training the brain to focus.

Myndlift’s app, which includes a wearable neurofeedback solution and specially tailored mobile games, can – the makers claim – improve attention levels with just 10 minutes of play time a day.

  1. 10 things you must do in Tel Aviv
Winter or summer, the Tel Aviv beach is always number one on any to-do list. Photo via www.shutterstock.com
Winter or summer, the Tel Aviv beach is always number one on any to-do list. Photo via www.shutterstock.com

Ah, Tel Aviv. It’s one of the most exciting, cosmopolitan and cultural cities in the world. Regularly voted as one of the top destinations worldwide for anything from nightlife to beautiful people, eating out, and gay life, it’s truly a city worth visiting.

To give you a head’s up of where to go and what to do, we compiled a list of the 10 best things to do in the city – from hanging out at the beach, to visiting history at Independence Hall, enjoying Bauhaus Tel Aviv, and eating out at Sarona Market.

  1. Intel’s guide to doing business with Israelis 
Israeli informality is famous. Photo via www.shutterstock.com
Israeli informality is famous. Photo via www.shutterstock.com

It doesn’t take anyone long to realize that doing business with Israelis is a completely different affair, but earlier this year Intel USA caused hilarity all over the web with its guide to employees on how to deal with Israeli chutzpah.

Present ideas clearly, expect to be cut off regularly during a presentation, anticipate loud and passionate debate … yes, yes, all good advice.

  1. Why dieting is individual 
People have individual responses to food. Image from the article “What to Eat? Check Your Microbiome!” in Cell
People have individual responses to food. Image from the article “What to Eat? Check Your Microbiome!” in Cell

There’s no such thing as a one size fits all diet according to extensive Israeli research published in November, because everyone’s bodily response to food is different.

The Personalized Nutrition Project, by the Weizmann Institute of Science, is the largest study of its kind to date anywhere in the world. It continuously monitored blood-sugar levels in 800 people for a week, monitoring their response to more than 46,000 meals, and discovered that the body’s response to all foods is highly individual.

Put simply, white bread may be bad for one person, but it may not be so bad for another. Now the researchers have generated an algorithm that can predict our individualized responses to food based on our lifestyle, medical history and composition of our microbiomes. Good news indeed.