There can be no doubt that 2023 was one of the worst years in Israel’s history.
It began with the government’s widely unpopular announcement of a judicial overhaul, which month to month caused a vast and deepening rift within Israeli society.
The proposed plan also seriously impacted Israel’s unusually strong economy, hitting the high-tech industry in a way not previously seen, even in recession years.
Then came the brutal Hamas attack on October 7th, the worst terror attack in Israel’s history, with 1,200 dead, thousands wounded, and communities up and down the Gaza border destroyed.
And now we are at war in Gaza. More than 360,000 reserve soldiers are mobilized and fighting, and civilian populations are under missile attack not just from Gaza, but from Lebanon and Yemen as well.
Yes, that definitely rates as a very bad year.
But this is Israel, and even when things look dark, the country continues to excel, to develop and innovate. So even in the midst of this troubled year, entrepreneurs, social activists, techies, and people from every walk of life continued to produce and build, constantly aiming to create a better world.
Here are our most popular stories of the year.
This story caused a stir when it came out, going viral almost immediately. Israeli startup Epitomee developed an ingestible weight-loss device that inflates in your stomach to make you feel full. It quickly disintegrates after use, and leaves the body naturally.
By producing a feeling of satiety, it allows users to lose a moderate amount of weight.
In November, company stocks soared after news of a successful clinical trial in the US, but just two weeks later, they fell 70% after news that distribution partner Nestle had decided not to market the product.
When war broke out in Israel, we were amazed at how not only the local Israeli population, but people from all over the world as well, wanted to help out.
Readers wrote to us asking for information on volunteer opportunities, so we put together a list of organizations looking for help. The story quickly took off, and continues to be one of our most popular pieces during the war – an uplifting response that really warms our hearts.
Version Bravo was established to help operational veterans of the US Navy SEALs, and the Israeli Navy SEALs, tap into their unique entrepreneurial potential.
The 10-week entrepreneurship program brings together veterans from both countries and gives them mentorship, support and an introduction to the investment community. The course takes place in the US and in Israel.
“I expected the two communities to get along. But still I was surprised at how they connected so quickly and how willing they were to help one another,” said Nuri Golan, global director of Version Bravo.
Israel has a long, hot summer, a young population, an extended school vacation, and many visitors from abroad also come to the country, so as a service to all the parents of young children out there, we update this classic story every year.
Where to go, what to do, how to keep your kids occupied. Watch out for the 2024 edition next year.
Another reader-inspired story we created after war broke out with Hamas on October 7. Distressed by the developing situation, readers asked how they could help. We responded with an ever-growing list of organizations in need of support.
Israeli TV and film content is growing more and more popular worldwide. While action-packed hit show Fauda remains the top pick, there are plenty of other great movies and shows to catch on streaming giant Netflix, from historical romance to comedy. Check out our top 10 list.
And if you still can’t get enough of Fauda itself, you can also enjoy our top 10 list of things you don’t know about Fauda, but should.
7. The 48
To celebrate Israel’s 75th birthday, we put together a list of 48 Israelis who are uniquely shaping the country. It’s a fascinating read, and a great introduction to some of the upcoming movers and shakers of Israeli society.
Israeli company Level Hydrofoils will introduce the first-ever sustainably propelled e-foil surfboards that are stabilized with the aid of embedded sensors and algorithms paired with a patented single-mast technology that will allow you to surf on wilder waters too.
Next up, the company hopes to develop sustainably propelled e-foil powerboats that can sail on high seas, drastically reducing power consumption.
Interestingly, Level Hydrofoils was in the first cohort of Version Bravo, mentioned above.
There aren’t enough honeybees for ever-growing agricultural needs, so Israeli startup BloomX invented robotic mobile units that bio-mimic the job of the bee.
The innovation not only removes the need to transport bees from field to field during pollination season – a process that is expensive and often deadly for the bees – but also allows farmers to use less pesticide and herbicide.
We may not have many tourists visiting Israel at the moment, but you can be sure that when the war ends, a great number of visitors will be winging their way to Israel – some to volunteer, and others to enjoy the unique atmosphere of this special country.
Some of them, inevitably, will end up staying as a guest at an Israeli home. What should they expect? Here’s our insider guide.
We all know we have to eat less sugar, and the World Health Organization has also recommended that we avoid sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharine, sucralose and stevia as they may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
So what are you supposed to do? Israel has several promising startups emerging in this field, all of which may be able to help us satisfy our sweet tooth, while eating less sugar.
Following the Hamas attacks of October 7, what amazed and heartened us all were the stories of ordinary, everyday people who, faced with barbarism, rose above everything to become heroes.
Whether it was driving repeatedly under fire to rescue young people from the Supernova party, treating the wounded in the midst of battle, restaurant owners who dropped everything to feed evacuees, or an elderly man who saved his family by sacrificing himself – these were really incredible stories.
We brought them together in our series – “Unexpected heroes” – as a way to celebrate the extraordinary people of Israel.