Nicky Blackburn
March 20, 2014

happy3There aren’t enough moments in life when you celebrate being happy. We celebrate at weddings and birthdays, but the simple joys of everyday life often go unmarked and unnoticed.

In international surveys, Israel has been hailed as one of the happiest countries in the world. Time after time, we’ve scored in the top 10 or 20 happiest places to live in the annual World Happiness Survey.

It might seem incongruous to anyone who lives outside of the country, and who imagines Israel as a dark, militaristic place, but to the people living here it’s really no surprise. We may have problems, there may be thorny issues, we may even have many enemies, but still…

It was a pleasure for us, then, when we went out to film our own version of Pharrell Williams’ song, “Happy,” on the streets of Tel Aviv and Jaffa.

I’ve always thought of Tel Aviv as one of the most creative, energetic and exciting places in the world. It’s noisy, youthful, brash and fun. The shoot confirmed for me something else I’d always experienced — the pure joy you see in the city as well.

From the moment we turned on the music and the cameras started rolling, everyone around us was dancing – from street cleaners to shoppers, from business people to policemen. Everyone wanted to take part.

Any worries we had that people might be reluctant to dance on camera in front of strangers was swept aside in moments. Not only did the volunteers who joined us for the two-day shoot want to dance, but so did everyone else as well.

We are repeatedly asked how come everyone in the film looks so happy. Did we hire professional actors? No, we didn’t. These were just ordinary people.

Since we released the video on March 3, the number of views has shot up to more than 200,000. Views come not just from North America, Europe and Asia, but also from some highly unexpected countries – Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon, Pakistan and even Syria.

It’s been shared and tweeted, featured on news sites and websites all over the world, and even screened on TV.

About a week after “Happy Tel Aviv-Yafo” was posted, we received an invitation to submit our video for the UN Day of Happiness, which takes place every March 20. You can find us at hour 11 on the 24 hours of happiness site. It’s a fitting arena for us to show the world a completely different side of Israel – a side we here all know, but which others barely ever see.

So thank you to everyone involved. Not just to all the many people who danced and took part, and to all of you who posted and reposted the film, but also to Pharrell Williams for making such an uplifting song and giving us a chance to show the world the happiness that lies at the heart of Israel.

We thoroughly enjoyed making the film and seeing the spirit of Tel Aviv come alive for thousands of people all over the world.


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