Abigail Klein Leichman
December 19, 2012

At ISRAEL21c, we’re committed to providing a window onto the many ways Israeli innovation is changing the world for the better. We also share a glimpse of how Israelis simply let their hair down and have a really good time despite – or perhaps because of – living in a part of the world that isn’t ordinarily equated with fun.

The best way to show that is through action. This year, we’ve produced and posted more than 45 short films that you can view on our site or directly on YouTube – where ISRAEL21c’s channel has gotten more than three million views since 2007.

We’ve brought viewers to an olive-spitting contest, to roller derby in Tel Aviv, to a “live statues” festival in Rehovot and to a desert bike race at the Dead Sea.

And now… the 10 most-watched ISRAEL21c videos in 2012:

1. What does Made in Israel mean to you?

Produced in celebration of Israel’s 64th birthday, this video gives a rapid-fire visual overview of 64 years of amazing achievements.

You’ll learn that amniocentesis was invented by an Israeli, as was an ultrasound device to melt tumors; a treatment for multiple sclerosis; a device to help paraplegics walk; a pain-free dental laser; and non-invasive treatments for ADHD, depression and Alzheimer’s.

Israelis are helping you mow your lawn robotically, defend yourself with Krav Maga, turn your dog’s droppings into harmless powder, stay safer in the car, put bubbles in your soda, get rid of unwanted hair and enjoy a whole new crop of TV shows, musicians and artists.

2. A cardboard bicycle?

Izhar Gafni is crazy about bikes – he makes them, fixes them and rides them. But three engineer friends thought the chain had really slipped from the gears when Gafni suggested making a cheap and environmentally friendly bicycle out of 100 percent recyclable materials, 95% percent of which is strong cardboard.

With six prototypes already manufactured, Gafni hopes to interest corporate or governmental sponsors in helping to spark an urban environmental project or perhaps an affordable mode of transportation for schoolchildren in Africa.

3. Tel Aviv, home to the world’s most beautiful people

Travelers Digest readers included Tel Aviv on its 2012 list of Cities with the Best-Looking Men and on its companion list of Cities with the Best-Looking Women.

We show you why the mag says: “Tel Aviv has become a hot spot for trendsetters worldwide. Local cuties flaunt their fit bodies – made all the better by their year-round tans – at any of the numerous beaches and cafés found on the 10-mile seaside strip.”

4. Hannukah in Jerusalem

Walk the streets of Jerusalem’s Old City during the eight days of Hannukah and you’ll see why the holiday is called the Festival of Light.

Along its dark and ancient alleyways, hannukiyahot (eight-branched candelabras), are set outside everyone’s doorways. Every night of the eight-day holiday, a new flame is set alight. But Hannukah isn’t just about light, it’s also about food and fun.

5. Israel, the new ice cream capital?

Israel’s not known as a destination for great ice cream, but as this video illustrates, maybe it’s time to rethink that.

After all, the average Israeli eats about 10 liters of ice cream per year, compared to 6.2 liters per capita in Italy, home of gelato. We’ve got our own takes on the frozen treat –for instance, hummus ice cream, made with chickpeas and topped with olive oil and pine nuts; or 10-spice ice cream, reminiscent of chai latte.

6. Krav Maga: World’s best defense system

Imrich Lichtenfeld probably didn’t envision that the style of street combat he invented would become so popular outside of Israel, where it has long been taught in the military. In the 1980s, this defensive martial art went international and is taught to people from six to 60.

Many students prefer to come to Israel to learn or perfect Krav Maga at its source, and this video features some disciples explaining why they made the trip.

7. Neta Rivkin: Olympic gymnast

Neta Rivkin got her start in rhythmic gymnastics at age six, when her future coach saw her walking in Petah Tikvah with her dad, a basketball coach. The expert saw right away that Neta’s body was made for gymnastics.

She’s been perfecting her rhythmic gymnastic routine ever since, becoming one of only two Israeli gymnasts to win medals at international competitions. London was her second Olympics. “Representing Israel makes my heart flutter,” she says.

8. Jerusalem on ice

Tons of ice made for tons of fun during Jerusalem’s first Ice Festival in 2012. Keeping the frozen water at minus-10 degrees Celsius was no easy feat in the early spring in Jerusalem, but the Israelis and tourists who came marveled at the life-size giraffes, scenes from Noah’s Ark, “The Wizard of Oz” and other children’s books, as well as an ice windmill and the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City, all crafted by 31 ice sculptors from China.

9. 3D street-painting festival

Chalk artists, painters, environmental sculptors and musicians from Israel and Holland, Italy, the United States and Russia contributed their diverse talents to the inaugural Festival of Street Painting in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Hasharon, which celebrated its 90th anniversary this year.

The highlight of the street festival, expected to become an annual event, were 3D sidewalk chalk drawings that cross the line into the genre of performance art. Take a look at the artists at work in our video.

10. Touring the Carmel Market

Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market is “the” place to go for everything from souvenirs to cutting-edge café cuisine. Top chefs from the city’s eateries come here to purchase raw ingredients, including Israeli staples such as bountiful varieties of fresh herbs, chickpeas, cheeses, olives and eggplant.

This video also illustrates deliciously why Carmel Market is the destination for freshly made regional delicacies including flatbread, hummus and falafel.

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We cover what makes life in Israel so special — it's people. A non-profit organization, ISRAEL21c's team of journalists are committed to telling stories that humanize Israelis and show their positive impact on our world. You can bring these stories to life by making a donation of $6/month. 

Jason Harris

Jason Harris

Executive Director

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